WSU must right wrongs, give student veterans their education benefits

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WSU must right wrongs, give student veterans their education benefits

Veterans Day is a time to honor the brave men and women of the Armed Forces who risk their lives for the sake of our country. As we observe this solemn holiday, it’s time for Wichita State to own up to its mistakes and support its student veterans by making sure they receive their GI benefits.

People are drawn to military service for many reasons — a sense of duty, self discipline, and love of country. For many people, education plays a major factor.

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), more than 1 million student veterans rely on GI benefits to pursue their degrees. Wichita State has roughly 600 student veterans receiving GI benefits. They also have more than 80 student veterans who have not received payments for their education benefits, thanks to a backlogged certification process at the Student Veteran Center.

WSU has neglected its student veterans by denying them the benefits they paid forward through their service.

Last month, the Student Government Association passed a resolution stating concerns with the backlog.

In response to the resolution, WSU hired three new people to process veteran benefits. The university touted a “significant” reduction in the backlog, but only 15 students were certified in the nine days following, according to a second SGA resolution. The resolution stated that WSU has made only a “minimal effort” to resolve the issue.

More than 80 student veterans are still waiting for their payments. An influx of nearly 800 students is expected when registration opens for the spring 2019 semester. This isn’t sustainable.

The second resolution called on WSU to outsource its certification process by utilizing a consulting group comprised of VA certifiers and the university’s VA educational liaison.

Some student veterans are struggling to afford everyday expenses. Others have already left WSU.

It’s time for WSU to stop paying lip service to its student veterans and start paying them actual money. WSU must resolve the backlog issue by outsourcing its veteran benefit certification process to the VA.

Denying WSU’s student veterans their education benefits is indefensible.

According to the VA, 62 percent of student veterans are first-generation college students. Their service should be honored. They deserve their higher education.