By Sarah Purtill
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. – 11,000 disabled student veterans are facing a delay with their stipends this month. These payments are subsistence allowance payments. They help to pay for living expenses while the students go to school. The program which pays the stipends is through the Department of Veterans Affairs as part of its Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program. The money is supposed to be disbursed on the last day of each month. The money should have been disbursed on January 31, but the students did not see the disbursement until February 6. An internal memo obtained by the Washington Post called the problem a “computer glitch.” In the memo, VA employees were told to apologize to the students and tell them their money was on the way.
The program gained popularity because it helps disabled veterans get job counseling. It also helps them earn college degrees or learn technical skills. There are internship opportunities and resume workshops. Although the problem was fixed in a few days, it may create a multitude a problems for the students. They may be late on rent or other bills or may not be able to buy groceries for a few days.
One army veteran who did not receive his stipend on the 31st is Rick Collins of Portland Oregon. Because his stipend will be arriving several days late, he has had to put off paying some of his bills and will not have to pay late fees as well. Collin had served in Afghanistan and suffers from post traumatic stress, severe memory loss, and chronic back and shoulder pain.
“This was going to be my first month with money left over after bills, and now that will all go to late fees,” said Collin. He is a father to four children aged 9, 7, 2 and 9 months. He is also studying photography at Portland Community College. He has also said that he is in his fifth week of the term and still has not received the computer he was promised. He only received the camera he was promised last week.
“Any large bureaucracy has their glitches, but anytime veterans are not getting their benefits on time, especially when on a program like this, it’s a real hardship,” said Garry J. Augustine, executive director of 1.3 million-member Disabled American Veterans.
According to VA spokesman Curt Cashour, The glitch “has been fixed and it won’t occur again the future.” He also said, “We apologize to the veterans affected by this inconvenience.”
Even still the VA is facing a lot of scrutiny lately for several issues including long waits for appointment times and medical malpractice.
For more information, please see:
Chicago Tribune – 11,000 Disabled Student Veterans Left Without Rent, Expense Money Due to Computer Glitch – 2 February 2018
Washington Post – 11,000 Disabled Student Veterans Left Without Rent and Expense Money Due to Computer Glitch – 2 February 2018
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs – Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E)