Veterans groups to push to end government shutdown
October 12th, 2013
07:13 PM ET
9 months ago

Veterans groups to push to end government shutdown

Washington (CNN) – A military coalition including 33 of the nation’s leading veterans and uniformed services organizations on Tuesday will stage a major event in Washington to push for an end to the government shutdown.

Activists for veterans and the nation’s service members have warned the shutdown – especially as it approaches the end of its second week – has had a devastating impact on them and their families, and now they are stepping up their campaign to put political pressure to re-open the government.


The event will be held Tuesday morning at the National World War II Memorial, several sources familiar with it confirmed to CNN. Some of the major groups that will be represented include: The American Legion, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Air Force Sergeants Association, National Military Family Association and Jewish War Veterans.

Officials from these groups say there is a lot of frustration and uncertainty as the shutdown continues, such as among veterans who receive disability and GI Bill benefits and survivors who rely on survivor benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs has said it would not be able to pay benefits if the government stayed closed through the end of month.

One of the approximately 3 million wounded veterans who are facing dire circumstances is Ryan Lamke. He told CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr he had this message for the politicians about what he and his fellow veterans will face if their checks don’t arrive.

“It means that they may go broke. They may have that extra financial stress on an already stressed life. It could be, in worst case scenario, a suicide spike; emotional stability drops. I mean, we’re talking about a population of veterans that are not seeking out the mental health care they so desperately need.”

Lamke, who came home from Iraq in 2008 after seven IED attacks, was diagnosed with traumatic brain jury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Although he went on to graduate from college, he is now unemployed, and his VA disability check is his only source of income. If the shutdown goes past Tuesday, he said he has been told the VA will not be able to make the payments scheduled to go out the first of November – when he has a lot of bills due.

When asked what that meant for him, he told Starr “I go broke. I go broke. It’s really that simple.”

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee earlier this week about the impact of the shutdown, telling Congress that on November 1, the department will not be able to pay all of the approximately 3.8 million beneficiaries who are expecting checks.

“I need the authorization, appropriations and a budget to be able to do that,” he said. “Let us get back to work. The sooner we do it the faster I get back up to full speed.”

Also impacted are the 435,000 veterans in the VA’s disability claims backlog who now will have to wait longer for their applications to be dealt with because the agency has stopped paying overtime to processors who were trying to cut the backlog.

The House has passed a bill to fund the VA as part of its strategy to finance the politically popular and necessary parts of the government in a piecemeal approach. The Senate has not voted on that bill because Democrats argue the whole government should be re-opened.

–CNN Producer Larry Shaughnessy contributed to this story.


Filed under: Government Shutdown • Veterans
soundoff (408 Responses)
  1. V

    Kick everyone out of office! They don't care about this nation but about their own pocket book. Always going back on their words and commiting crimes against the people that put them in office. We need new people in office who will lower the national debt, lower taxes, take care of Vets, Social Security & single parents on WIC. This is very childish, immature, and selfish. Ex. the President makes 400k a year, not sure what Congress makes, but why do their paychecks go up and the American people hurt from it. They are not special. They don't know what it is like to be poor, to be middle class. There is no more middle class now, just poverty thanks to this administration and everyone in Congress. Coming up with a budget isn't hard; listening to the true American People isn't hard; taking care of our nation shouldn't come last!!!

    October 13, 2013 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  2. V

    These posts need to go to the white house and to congress, not pre-scanned then deleted for telling the truth.

    October 13, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  3. kat

    I am disturbed at anyone not wanting vets to get their benefits or making comments they do not rank above others. They have sacrificed more than any of us civilians will ever know. God bless all of you who have served this great country. The president could and should as commander-in-chief take care of our vets. It was their duty to serve this great nation and it is America's duty to protect and take care of them in return.

    October 13, 2013 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  4. Alex

    Congress, President and Obama pay themselves... but stop veterans from getting paid.

    October 13, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  5. America1st

    Do any of these people really believe TED CRUZ, the foreigner cares about these veteran "takers." That's his disparaging word for anyone on government support – TAKERS.

    October 13, 2013 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  6. supernaturalfan42

    I am close to having a panic attack, I am one of the veterans receiving disability benefits, I am a single mother raising a disabled and am already having a hard time getting by, I lose my veterans payment and we are screwed. This has got to stop.

    October 13, 2013 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  7. TheBittomLine

    Jamie you have to be a little smarter than you are putting on. I'm a Viet Nam disabled veteran that was already hurting before the shutdown. I will b e downtown DC on Tuesday morning to help ,with the American veteran cause. What this whole thing is really about runs deep and most of us don't want to admit was it is, but on the bottom line is the on going hate that's going to destroy us all. We better wake up guys.

    October 13, 2013 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  8. Iraq Afghanistan army veteran

    What bothers me is honestly how a lot of people are trying to pin all this on Obama and democrats. This is all on the republicans for trying to change what is already law being the ACA by using blackmail. Sure, the stupid people of this country might fall for that, but I'm not stupid so the GOP can figuratively go to hello. As for the people blaming Obama and democrats for this, please get your pathetic selves together because you guys are so completely wrong and apparently have no clue what is going on.

    October 13, 2013 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
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