CHICAGO (CBS) – On this Veterans Day, a new not-for-profit is helping veterans put their lives and their finances back on track after they leave the military. The group helps vets to pay off student loans and to find jobs — with one catch. CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez explains.
Eli Williamson and Roy Brown went to high school, college, and joined the service together. Each also accumulated a large student loan debt, but quickly realized they weren’t alone.
“When Eli and I both returned, he had the issue, I had the issue, and other veterans,” said Brown. “We searched for organizations to help us, and one day we looked at each other and said, ‘I guess we’re it.’”
So they founded “Leave No Veteran Behind” – a group that raises money to pay off student loan debt for military veterans.
“These are vets who have complete some form of higher education, who have served their country honorably, who are going through some form of economic hardship,” said Williamson.
Arnetta Roberts left the Air Force, where she started college, after suffering an injury. She later graduated with a loan debt of $40,000.
Roberts was under the impression that the military would pay the bills, along with many others. She says finding this organization has given her new hope.
“The clouds parted,” she said. “It makes me feel that we’re not left behind. We aren’t forgotten, the sacrifices that we made.”
In Al Walker’s case, finding a job was nearly impossible, until he found Leave No Veteran Behind. The group helped the 20-year army veteran land a job with Safe Passage, patrolling near troubled schools.
“My adjustment was tough,” said Walker. “Leave No Veteran Behind has allowed me to get back into that type of mode that I was used to coming out of the military, the work mode.”
The new GI Bill covers a lot more in the way of education expenses, but there are still a number of ways many vets fall through the cracks.
The “catch” for those who receive money is that they have to perform 100 hours of community service. It’s their way of giving back to the donors out there.