MACCLENNY, Fla. --Brandon Colbert served during Operation Iraqi Freedom as an explosives ordinance disposal (EOD) specialist, and is proud of his service.
"I volunteered for deployment because the New York National Guard Unit was in need of personnel," said Colbert.
But he said he was enrolled in FSCJ when he received his deployment orders and did not finish his classes. "I took those orders to FSCJ where I handed them to the (veterans affairs) liaison," said Colbert. "They said they would process it and everything would be okay."
In 2009, he went to the Middle East, but he returned in 2010 from deploymentto find the VA Debt Management Center trying to collect money paid for his college education.
He thought a copy of his deployment orders would resolve the issue, but it did not. "It (the order)was supposed to have exempted me because I was in a combat zone," said Colbert.
Colbert said he was instructed to file for a waiver but when he did, the request was denied because he did not file within 180 days of the notice.
"I had no knowledge, because August 2010 (the 180-day deadline) I was still in Iraq at the time," said Colbert.
Now he's afraid that the VA's debt collector, Pioneer Credit,will garnish his wages for the $1,500 spent on his college education.
Colbert said he doesn't feel like he owes the VA. "I'd like for this to be taken care of because I don't think it is right," he said.
"I stepped up to the plate when the Army asked me to step to the plate and deployed with the unit that needed me, " said Colbert. "And I expect the Army or VA to do the same for me when I come back home."
Angela Wilson, a spokesperson for the VA in St. Petersberg, Fla., said they will review the case and reach out to Colbert for a resolution.
It may take a few days but will let us know the outcome, she said.