OGDEN — If the shutdown isn't solved soon, thousands of student veterans in Utah won't get the money they need to continue classes.
At Weber State University, there are 850 students who have earned educational entitlements by serving their country, and for many, fighting on the battlefield. Without that money, many won't be able to finish the current semester.
"It's very much like the government has turned their backs on us, for sure," said Cameron Misrasi, a student veteran at Weber State.
Misrasi fought in Iraq with the Marines, and Afghanistan with the Army, and was awarded a Purple Heart. He is proud of the guys he served with, but not proud of our government right now.
Like thousands of student veterans in Utah, and tens of thousands across the country, he needs that check — in the range of $1,000 — to pay for school expenses.
"They're scraping by with their educational benefits just to have a successful future; and then to have them torn from them when they already have nothing — and they've earned them," Misrasi said.
Nathan Cragun is in the Utah Air National Guard. He works in the Veterans Services Office, helping other student veterans with their benefits. He hates when he has to tell another vet their entitlement payments have been cut off.
"When you see the realization hit their face, it's almost as if you're seeing the whole world crumble in their eyes," Cragun said.
When you see the realization hit their face, it's almost as if you're seeing the whole world crumble in their eyes.
–Nathan Cragun, student veteran
If the payments aren't restored quickly, many of the student veterans will not be able to finish off the semester. And if they can't pay what they owe the university, they won't be able to sign up for classes next semester.
Charlie Chandler, veterans' services coordinator at Weber State, said the payouts could be, and should be, restored quickly.
"They're told they will receive the benefits, and now they are told that they are not important, that they don't matter," Chandler said.
Misrasi is hopeful, but if the check does not come, he says he'll make ends meet for his family.
"I think they need to figure out really quick, because they're having a nation turn against them very fast," he said.
Utah's other universities have similar numbers of student veterans, in the range of 1,000, who will be hurt by this.