It's an issue that's hit tens of thousands who have served our country. Delays within the US Department of Veterans Affairs are creating a financial burden for many including veteran students. 

"My brother is still active duty," said Dr. Hilary Miller of Middle Tennessee State University. "He is a major in the Marines. My husband just retired a year ago from the Army."

There are major reasons why veterans issues have the heart of Miller. She's proud to be director of MTSU's Charlie and Hazel Daniels Veterans and Military Family Center. 

"Our mission here is to help enroll them, encourage them academically and make sure they graduate, find them jobs," said Miller.

A lot of the people she fights for have had a hard semester. 

Computer issues at the Department of Veterans Affairs meant weeks of delays nationwide to GI Bill payments. 

Miller's team was able to get tuition fees waived for veteran students, but it still left them with delays to housing and book allowances.

"We have 1,094 military-connected students," said Miller. "Almost 700 of them are using the GI bill, and there were so many of them that were delayed. I couldn't imagine going a month without some kind of housing allowance."

"We had templates so we could write letters to landlords asking if they would perhaps extend some grace and help some students out. We had short term loans available. We made sure faculty were aware of the situation, let them know this was a national issue, not the student's issue, not an MTSU issue. There were so many students who we visited with just to council them, whether it be on short term loans or getting them set up on financial aid where they could get a loan until their housing came in. One student I visited with said, 'I don't want to take out financial aid. I'm not asking for your help. I don't want your help. I just want what I worked for.'"

While many cases involving MTSU students have been sorted out, Miller said even now a few students still haven't been paid. Her fear is this will force some students to quit school. 

"I'm constantly watching grades," Miller explained. "I wrote to one student saying I'm concerned about this. He said, 'I'm just not doing well cause I had to pick up a second job.' They're having to take second jobs. They're nervous about making payments. The hardship they've gone through is just extraordinary. Veterans are a unique set of students in that they don't want to ask for a handout, and that's how they see this."

Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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