Veteran says he's being billed thousands from the VA and doesn't understand whyPosted: Updated:
A military veteran says he's supposed to get help from the VA, but instead he says he can't get any clear answers.
Aaron Shortridge says he's a proud American.
"I was in the military, the U.S. Army," he said. "I joined because I love our country and I wanted to defend our country."
And he says he was proud to serve.
"My dad did it, so I wanted to carry out tradition," Shortridge said. "My grandfather did it. Right before I joined in 1999 he passed away so I wanted to keep tradition."
Now, years after being discharged for medical reasons and receiving disability from the military, Shortridge decided he wanted to go back to school.
"I wanted to get an associate degree and eventually I want to become a nurse," he said.
To help pay for school, Shortridge decided to use something called the post 9/11 GI Bill, a program that's designed exactly for veterans like him.
"I applied back in October to get the $3,000 emergency fund," Shortridge said.
He received the money and used it to pay for school. But, just recently he also received something else, and it came as a shock.
"So, I get this letter in February 2010 saying that I was overpaid $3,000," Shortridge said.
For some reason, the VA wanted the $3,000 returned, saying he was "overpaid," which didn't make sense to him. Shortridge says he already used the money to pay for his classes.
"Once you pay the school they're not going to give you your money back," Shortridge said. "Once you pay them, you're done."
Shortridge says the VA is now threatening that if he doesn't return the money, the agency will simply deduct it from his disability check.
"What they said in the letter was they threatened to garnish my disability per month," he said. "I have a $3,000 debt that I have to figure out how to get it taken care of."
Every time Shortridge says he calls the VA for answers he gets nowhere. Shortridge says he's more confused than ever and says he's caught up in government red tape.
"It's very discouraging," Shortridge said. "It is kind of a slap in the face, I did what I was supposed to do. All I'm asking of you is give what is owed to me."
3 On Your Side has discovered that the $3,000 was actually a loan and not part of the so-called "free education money" included in the VA's benefits for higher learning. That means any veteran who accepted the $3,000 will be expected to repay it and the VA says they thought they made that clear.
Veterans don't think so because we have received several complaints on this very issue.