SGA: 100 veterans did not receive GI Bill benefits after Wichita State failed to process paperwork


Easton Thompson

Business Senator Ciaban Peterson co-authored a resolution stating concerns that many student veterans have not had their paperwork processed by WSU and did not receive their GI Bill payments.

Student senators passed a resolution stating concerns that more than a hundred student veterans at Wichita State have not received payments for GI Bill education benefits due to understaffing at the Student Veteran Center. The resolution states that this has caused “severe financial crisis/hardship for a considerable portion” of students.

The resolution, presented to the Student Senate on Wednesday, states that the university has failed to process certification for many student veterans, which kept them from receiving their GI Bill education benefits and left them struggling to pay “day-to-day living expenses” and forced them to take out student loans and accumulate debt.

“We have students that are veterans that are not getting the money that they earned,” said Jeremy Warren, a student veteran and co-author of the resolution.

“This is not something that has been made better . . . This is an ongoing problem right now,” he said.

“[Paperwork] is going to sit here for over 60 days while you are unable to pay your bills.”

Warren said he knows a fellow veteran who has yet to have his GI Bill paperwork processed by the university. “He was not able to go and buy diapers for his child because of this university’s lack of action,” he said. “That is unacceptable.”

The resolution cites a recommendation from the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) that universities have a School Certifying Official for every 200 student veterans enrolled. A School Certifying Official is someone who processes certification for student veterans so they can receive VA education benefits.

The Student Government resolution states that WSU technically has four but operates with just one “dedicated and active” School Certifying Official.

WSU had 593 student veterans receiving VA benefits as of Oct. 8, according to the resolution.

The resolution includes numbers from the University of Kansas for the sake of comparison. The resolution states that KU has 848 student veterans receiving benefits, and has four “dedicated and active” School Certifying Officials who work to process that paperwork.

Warren said that all but one of WSU’s School Certifying Officials have other primary responsibilities. Only one of the officials is “actively working,” to process certification for student veterans, according to the resolution.

“This is a time-sensitive issue,” Warren said. “For the past two years we (The Student Veteran Center) have been understaffed.”

The resolution states that in February 2017, student veterans met with the President’s Executive Team, a group of university administrators that work out of President John Bardo’s office, to implore them to hire more School Certifying Officials “to more closely reflect the VA recommended ratio” of one official for every 200 student veterans “and to ensure accountability during high traffic periods or emergency leave.”

The resolution asks that the university ensure there is more than one School Certifying Official “working through the backlog of certifications” that haven’t been processed and continue accumulating.

In addition to Warren, the bill was co-authored by Business Senator Ciaben Peterson and Veterans’ Senator Michael Bearth. Peterson and Bearth also serve on the Student Veteran Organization.

The resolution was sponsored by the WSU Student Veterans Organization, KU’s Student Veterans of America chapter, George Mason University’s Mason Vetern Patriots, Returning Adult Senator Eugene Potts,  Liberal Arts & Sciences Senator Jaiden Soupene, and student veteran Kegan Fisher.

Additionally, the Student Senate unanimously passed a resolution to stand in solidarity with children separated from their families at the U.S. border with Mexico. The resolution was authored by Peterson and Graduate Senator Carolyn Fugit and sponsored by the WSU Hispanic American Leadership Organization, WSU Student Veterans Organization, Student Government Diversity Task Force, Out of State Senator Kathlynn Short, Fine Arts Senator Haley Ensz, Soupene, and Bearth.