Government shutdown threatens to leave veterans behind

Following the government shutdown on Oct. 1, over 500 student veterans at BC have had their disability and/or G.I Bill benefits cut off, leaving many in a position in which they can no longer pay for school, rent, or food.

Veterans were previously expecting to receive a paycheck on Nov. 1., an event that now seems highly unlikely.

Pete A. Smith, veteran navigator at BC, is one of the veterans affected by the loss of a paycheck.

“How am I going to be able to do the normal things that I need to do to not only survive, but to be successful at school?”

In a Catch-22 scenario,  if  veterans opt to drop out for the rest of the quarter to support their families, they will be in violation of the GI Bill. Once a veteran violates the terms of the GI Bill, they are required to pay the U.S. government back for any tuition it has provided up to this point., leaving veterans more in debt than they were before.

According to Aaron Malec, president of the Bellevue College Association of Veterans, this leaves vets with a  dilemma: “Do you focus on classes and wait for problems to come, or do you drop out early and hope for the best?”

BC student organizations are current ly trying  work out alternate arrangements to support its veterans.

Assistant Dean of Student Programs Faisal Jaswal says that the programs of BC “are working together on real, tangible methods to assist veterans in need  .”

Jaswal and Malac expect to be able to release more information soon.