Local veterans feel cheated after VA stopped paying for flight school halfway through semester

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NORMAN, Okla. - Some local veterans said the government broke a promise.

They’re all training to be pilots and were promised that education would be paid for with their GI bill.

Now, the government said they’re flying solo.

The OU flight programs were approved back in July.

Then, the VA flipped the switch this week.

“I’m frustrated, upset [and] angry,” said Leland Kearns.

He served in the Air Force and has been going to flight school this past year in Norman.

“Since I have been flying, this has been one of the funnest things I’ve ever done,” Kearns said.

He and more than a dozen other veterans going to school a GI bill benefit just got the email saying the VA is terminating certifications for students pursuing flight programs.

Jared McGowan served in the Marine Corps for five years and has been working toward his commercial pilot license.

“Just tuition alone is expensive, then you tack on $60,000 for flight expenses so, right now, I've been looking at some hefty student loans unfortunately,” McGowan said.

“When we joined the military, there was a contract that we signed. That contract said, for a certain amount of years, we will be there 24-7 night or day for the United States. And, at the end, one of the things they were going to do for us was help us go back to school,” said Daniel Hall.

The post 9/11 GI bill didn’t place a money limit on vets pursuing degrees at public colleges and universities, where flight programs aren’t cheap.

The VA has stopped funding for vets in those programs at schools across the United States.

“Ever since I was a little boy, I always wanted to fly,” Hall said.

It’s a dream some of the vets fear may never come to fruition now.

OU is helping the vets try to find other financing options to complete the program.

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