Student-Veterans Describe Challenges To Sinema In Flagstaff

Feb 25, 2020

Arizona U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema met last Friday with student-veterans at Northern Arizona University’s Veteran Success Center to hear about the challenges of transitioning from military to student life. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema met with about a dozen student-veterans at the NAU Veteran Success Center Fri, Feb. 21, 2020.
Credit Ryan Heinsius / KNAU

Sinema joined about a dozen student-veterans from NAU and Coconino Community College who served in the U.S. Army, Coast Guard and Marine Corps, among other branches.

The veterans described frequent roadblocks to receiving healthcare benefits. Mary, who didn’t give her last name, is an Army veteran who says she suffers from a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.

"It is a challenge. I have been to the hospital here and … the waiting list, you know, about a month-and-a-half," she said.

"Oh, goodness," said Sinema.

"I really try not even go to the V.A. anymore," Mary said.

The veterans also told Sinema about confusion with case managers and other V.A. personnel. One Marine Corps veteran said he had multiple mental-health counselors abruptly quit without notice. Sinema was also told that dependents of veterans rarely receive adequate guidance to access their benefits, and said she’d pioneer such a training program.

The NAU Veteran Success Center serves about 400 active duty, National Guard, Reserve, and veteran-students statewide, and nearly 200 on the Flagstaff campus.