Shutdown's impact may not be over for veterans
October 19th, 2013
10:01 PM ET
10 months ago

Shutdown's impact may not be over for veterans

(CNN) – The partial government shutdown ended three days ago, but America's veterans may continue to feel its effects for some time.

Throughout the 16-day shutdown, efforts to clear the Department of Veterans Affairs' backlog of veterans' disabilities claims stalled, according to a department official. This delay has created concern about Secretary Eric Shinseki's ability to keep his pledge to end all backlogged claims–those older than 125 days–by 2015, the official said.

The VA employees responsible for processing these claims were not furloughed, but the department couldn't continue mandatory overtime to keep up with the backlog during the shutdown.

In testimony before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs this month, Shinseki said the shutdown had "led to delays for an average of 1,400 veterans a day."

As a result," Shinseki said, "we are no longer making the significant gains we have made in recent months toward eliminating the backlog in claims."

While the shutdown was in place, veterans were also prevented from visiting many of the memorials on the National Mall commemorating their service. Honor Flight groups were given an exemption under the First Amendment that allowed them to enter the National World War II Memorial, but that memorial was otherwise closed to the public, as were the nearby Vietnam Veterans and the Korean War Veterans memorials.

Even now that the shutdown is over, some veterans say they are upset with how politicians in Washington handled the crisis.

"They're being paid a lot of money, all of them," World War II veteran Harry Wisniewski told CNN on Saturday. "They should be able to sit down like sensible people and settle these damn things and not do this kind of stuff. How can they just say this is the way we settle it, block people from going to see the memorial? That's foolish."

- CNN's Chris Lawrence and Tom Dunlavey contributed to this report.

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. emskadittle

    Thank you Teaparty for shutting down the government, you hurt real patriots

    October 19, 2013 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  2. Evergreen

    Hire additional staff so our veterans can recieve the same quality of service they have always given. The 24 billion dollars wasted by Cruz would have made a tremedous difference in the lives of our Vets.

    October 19, 2013 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  3. MaryM

    Thanks a lot you freaking TPers, Including Cruz. Now you are continuing to hurt Americas Veterans. This shutdown stunt you GOP/Tpers just pulled will NOT be forgotten in the upcoming elections. I guarantee it.

    October 20, 2013 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  4. David

    Only a Terrorist would want a default and Ted you aren't even an American!

    October 20, 2013 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  5. Marie MD

    My husband is a veteran.
    Maybe those who had their useless pictures taken with those foolish teatards who shutdown the government can come back and talk some sense into them.
    I doubt the veterans understand the hypocrisy though. They seemed so happy and clueless shaking hands with the foolish ones who created the problem.

    October 20, 2013 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  6. Fair is fair

    I'm a USAF vet who supports Cruz ! Make a stand in what you believe. I'm willing to sacrifice and suffer if it means controlling an out of control govt.

    October 20, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  7. Jeff

    Marie, please thank your husband for his service. The event you say we (veterans) seemed clueless about was the million vet march which was a protest against the administration for closing our monuments as well as the entire Washington establishment for shutting down the government. While the shutdown was not good , the presidents decision to shut down the monuments was unnecessary and designed for one purpose. To maximize the hurt on the Vets attempt to place the blame on someone else. With no spending bill in place it falls on the POTUS to allocate existing funds. We were against the fact that he was spending more money closing these places than would have been required to keep them open. So while it may seem we were clueless, trust me when I tell you we are not. Personally, I am not happy with anyone in Washington at the moment. I owe $148,000 as my portion of the 17 trillion in debt we have racked up and oh yeah, the cost of my families health insurance is about to double and my deductible is going to triple !!!

    October 20, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  8. Thomas

    Ted Cruz / Sarah Palin 2016
    Standing up against big Government one vet at time !

    October 20, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  9. Larry in Houston

    IF 'ole Cruze says he would do it again, in 6 months, or whatever it is, then he will seal his own grave, so to speak. In other words, he might take Texas in the electoral college, and perhaps a couple more states, but that as far as he's going to go....even if he goes to the granite state to speak....and does another one of his filibusters....

    October 20, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |