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

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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. sue

    They who are suppose to represent us, should NOT be receiving salary. They only care about themselves. They do not care about the millions of disabled Americans nor do they care one hoot about seniors. The baggers need to be tried for treason and/or sedition.

    October 12, 2013 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  2. jack zambesi

    all vets join the rally

    October 12, 2013 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  3. vet with a brain

    I stay away from these groups. As a vet with 29 years of service I have gone to the American legion, VFW etc They want you to join, but all they are is hangouts for whinning teabag idiots, a lot from the viet Nam era. They will probably go to Washington and complain about the dems losing the viet nam war, What really amazes me is their racism. (Im white just to be clear) These vets drive around in their cars with their don't tread on me and hate Obama stickers, and now they are going to Washington? They are the ones that voted for the tea bag morons that created this mess.

    October 12, 2013 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  4. ThinkAgain

    If I were a World War II vet (like my uncle, who served in Guam), I'd be pretty ticked off at the tea baggers who are threatening to default on our nation's debt, because they can't get their way.

    World War II vets not only fought for the world's freedom, they survived the Great Depression. After the war, they rebuilt our economy and saw the benefits of the New Deal come to fruition. All of their sacrifice and hard work, and now their retirement benefits that they so deserve is being pooh-poohed by a bunch of childish whiners who can't handle the FACT that Obamacare is the law, upheld by the Supreme Court and the referendum we call the 2012 Presidential Election.

    I stand with one of these World War II vets in particular: 91-year-old Redge Ranyard of VoteVets. Check him out and see if you agree.

    October 12, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  5. ThinkAgain

    The tea baggers and the GOP and Fox and all the RWNJ radio heads BEGGED for this shutdown, which anyone with half a brain would know would affect the Park Service – which manages the memorials.

    Either the above-mentioned folks are even dumber than thought or this was all part of their strategy: To use veterans as pawns in their childish, whiny, irresponsible game.

    October 12, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  6. Winston Smith

    They've seen beachheads on foreign soil, machine gun emplacements, enemy troops and almost any hell that can be thrown at soldiers caught up in war. I'll bet they never thought they'd have to take on their own government, just to get them to do the right thing.

    October 12, 2013 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  7. Thomas

    The House needs to put a clean spending bill up on the floor for a vote .

    The speaker is obstructing the will of the people by not allowing a vote .

    October 12, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  8. getu

    For GOP/ Tea Party political agenda comes first the rest is secondary.

    October 12, 2013 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  9. john gladics

    Perhaps Vets should reconsider their historical support of the Republican Party. I am !!

    October 12, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  10. Dan5404

    The GOP has always ben for the military, but this shutdown and default threat is about hatred for Obama and the Affordable Care Act. Nothing else and no one else really matters to the extreme right. They are digging their own political graves and are too hate-filled to even realize it.

    October 12, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  11. morbius18

    He is nicely trying to imply that it is really bad to anger people that are trained killers, own lots of guns, have potential mental issues, and just lost the ability to support our families with disability payments. Ie: not much left to live for.

    October 12, 2013 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  12. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    It is disgusting that the republicans have such little respect for veterans.

    October 12, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  13. dnokc

    Mr. Obama & Mr. you have no shame? Veterans and children should NOT be used as hostages!

    October 12, 2013 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  14. Charlie

    History is repeating itself. After WWI veterans protested in Washington and were confronted by US Troops and removed. Obama is similar to Herbert Hoover. Veterans are damn right to protest. During war time waivers are given so the military can supply enough troops for war time. Then after conflicts and wars are drawn down they are treated like crap.

    October 12, 2013 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  15. slave

    Veterans have a contract with the government that stipulates they serve 4 years and in return they get the GI Bill benefit. The Montgomery GI Bill is not free- Soldiers must pay $1200 if they want it. This $1200 is deducted from their first few paychecks after joining the military. Eric Shinseki is the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and he intends to block all attempts to honor veterans contracts until Republicans back down. This can been seen in his statement highlighting how bad this shutdown is for veterans but then says the the piecemeal approach is unacceptable. The piecemeal approach he is referring to is actually the Republicans plan to honor veterans contracts during shutdown. Why would the Secretary of Veterans Affairs not embrace this offer? Is it because he is a liberal and friends with the President? Please pay attention to what Eric Shinseki the Secretary of Veterans Affairs is doing and more importantly what he is not doing. Eric Shinseki is the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and he is Solely responsible for veterans during this shutdown. Why has he not embraced the republican offer to support veterans during this shutdown?

    October 12, 2013 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  16. jvburrows

    I am also a 100% service connected disabled vet.....But I believe denying our pay is just a way to this administration is trying to make it hurt worse than it has too. I hate that we put our lives on the line for our country and came within an inch of losing it, pay with our dreams each night, and they want to use our well being for there political leverage. Fund the vets pay and leave us alone...... the VA announced they had funding through next year with no problem, then a couple weeks ago they announce they don't and keep repeating to pass a clean gov cr over and over. This is proof that they are just trying to make this hurt real bad to make repubs feel pressure to give into there demands.

    October 12, 2013 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  17. Evergreen

    Our veterans have suffered enough already. Just open the government and pay the country's bill. Pass a jobs bill and tax reform bills. We need to raise revenue to pay debts this country has already incurred as well as curb future spending.

    October 12, 2013 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  18. rs

    The Veterans groups need to go after the GOP- they're the ones who shut down the government and who apparently have no idea as to why or what to do next.

    October 12, 2013 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  19. Hunger4justice

    A bill passed by the House fully finding Veterans benefits has been sitting on Harry Reid's desk since JUNE...way before this hit the fan. This means they are intentionally playing with our lives and the lives of our families. No Afghani or Iraqi is threatening my family with poverty, hunger, homelessness, ruined credit, repossession of my car and auto. The direct threat to my life and the lives of my fellow veterans comes from Washington D.C.. There will be suicides because of them, They have no right to betray us and put us through this hell here at home.

    October 12, 2013 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  20. California John

    Open it. People are suffering needlessly because of demagoguery.

    October 12, 2013 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  21. B

    Thank you for your service. You deserve better.

    October 12, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  22. The Elephant in The Room

    If Vets really want to have an IMPACT instead of being USED for a photo op then they need to level some accountabiliity. Stand up in front of microphones, wearing berets and saying something along the lines of "bothj Democrats & Republicans are to blame . . . " is a waste of time. Ntional polls [not to mentioned informed common asense] tells us that most Americans KNOW that the GOP shut the government down, not the Democrats. Everyone knows thaty if Speaker Boehner would put a clean CR to a DEMOCRATIC, MAJORITY RULES vote, the shutdown would end immediately. That'"s because all Democrata would cvote for it and so would enough reasonable northeast and coastal Republicans. Vets, to have a favorable impacct you will need to point fimngers at the Republicans; otherwise, don't bother.

    October 12, 2013 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  23. Dave

    Demos need to pass that then God damnit.

    October 12, 2013 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  24. A/1-9 1969 Vet.

    I hope that all Vets. will pay close attention to how our so called Representatives have voted and remember that in 2014 and 2016. I just hope that my House payment can be made on time. Man Up and do your jobs fools!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 13, 2013 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  25. PercyA

    Recall, recall, recall all those tea party clowns who are holding up the benefits justly earned by the men and women of our armed forces, past and present.

    October 13, 2013 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
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