What Does Shutdown Mean For Student Veterans? - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

What Does Shutdown Mean For Student Veterans?

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Aiken County, SC -

Patrick Woodell served in the Army for 20 year.  He's seen a lot, but he can't believe he's seeing another shutdown:

"I don't see how they could let it happen, I just don't see how they could let it happen again," he says.

For Woodell, the shutdown is a double-whammy:  His wife is a DOD employee at Eisenhower, so right now, she's working for free.  And he isn't working because he's in school, depending on veteran's benefits.

"It's somewhat scary, but we're not getting shot at," he says.

But, there is some good news for student veterans.

"For this semester, the bills have been paid," says Robert Murphy, Director of the USC Aiken Veteran/Military Student Success Center (VSSC).

"We just got word yesterday benefits won't be stopped for October," former Marine Colin Schaufler says.  Schaufler is now a student at USC-A.

"That's a huge weight off our shoulders," says Stefanie Skinner, who served in the Army and is now a full-time student at USC-A.

Tuition is paid for the rest of this semester, but the living stipends are only paid up through this month.  If the government doesn't get it together, these veterans could need to find a new way to pay rent.

"I have a lot friends who are married, with kids, and they use that money to provide for their families," Schaufler says.  Schaufler says, personally, however, he could find a part-time job if necessary, since he isn't supporting a family.

And those veterans who are say they'll do what they have to do.

"We live on a really small budget, but we'll do what has to be done," Skinner says.

And they hope that involves staying in school.

"Getting them back to school is very difficult," says Murphy.  "One month of a living stipend, is that going to be enough to have you fall out of school and then try to come back in, is that going to be enough?  I hope not."

Regardless, they say the shutdown teaches a very important lesson.

"Don't just think about the moment, just plan," Woodell says.

"The best thing I can say, is it's a good time to teach our eight year old at home a reason to never spend outside your means," Skinner adds.

The VA has published a field guide here.

You can learn more about the VSSC here.

The Augusta Warrior Project (AWP) is also working to help veterans during the shutdown; they can be reached here.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America also has many resources here.

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