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. sharon

    there must be a spot open for the members of the house and the senate to go an fight and shoot a gun and come under fire,
    if they can't get our goverment open, i'm sure our service folks would welcome a trip back home.

    October 13, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  2. reality

    This Shutdown and Debt Ceiling crisis is SOLELY the Republicans fault and did not have to happen. The GOP broke it and could fix it TODAY if Boehner would allow an up or down vote, if they wanted to – but they don't . . . . And that alone should make you say that you will go to the polls and vote these Republican miscreants OUT of office.

    You want it FIXED? Then you and Americans should demand that Republicans (who broke it) end the Shutdown, raise the Debt Ceiling to pay for bills already approved by Congress, and stop creating ‘crisis after crisis’ in an attempt to destroy Americans and Americans . .

    President Obama, and any President (regardless of Party), is ABSOLUTELY correct to say no to these Blackmail, Traitorous and Terrorist tactics of threatening to ‘blow up the entire country’ if they don’t get their way, and no doubt you wouldn’t like it if Democrats did it. NO Party (Republican, Democrat, Indpendent, etc.) should use threats every few weeks, months, and years to SINK the nation because you can’t get your way.

    October 13, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  3. Palintologist

    Hopefully, the few remaining WWII vets will remind their compatriots of how a small group of extreme right-wing German
    domestic terrorists, funded by greedy industrialists, illegally seized power and destroyed their own country through a
    campaign of lies, discrimination, intimidation, chaos, and elitist totalitarianism. We mustn't forget how THEY supported
    their men in battle: They abandoned them on the Russian front, and let them FREEZE TO DEATH! Now that George
    "AwOIL" Bush, Dick "Deferment" Cheney, John "Discharged" Boehner, the Brothers "Chevron" Koch, et al, have
    enriched themselves via their 6-trillion dollar Middle-East adventures, they plan a similar fate for YOU! (But only, they
    hope, after they've duped you into voting for them at the polls in 2014!) Follow the money.

    October 13, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  4. speltomqt

    Cue Republican denial in 3...2...1...

    October 13, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  5. S-Hug

    GOP Mantra: Stop relying on Big Government to fulfill your needs. Take out a loan and start your own business. Quit protesting and go get a job. That's the GOP Mantra.

    October 13, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  6. Argyle

    According to the tea party, the shutdown is 'no big deal'.

    October 13, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  7. Faux Scandals

    The Republican shutdown was just another failed attempt to repeal Obamacare.

    October 13, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  8. sharon

    Tuesday in D.C. with all the vets, is certainly going to be a sight. It will be very emotional to see a trip to Washington for those who have served.

    October 13, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  9. Rob

    I hope Ibama is held to account by these patriots. Having a civilian with only community service as a commander in chief was a disasterous idea! He is not only anti-American, he is anti- military!!

    October 13, 2013 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  10. donald

    be sure to bring plenty of depends with you

    October 13, 2013 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  11. sastesni

    I became a veteran 45 years ago and for some it was last week. Since that time I have been able to save enough money to cover expenses for more than 2 weeks. The shut down is only about 2 weeks old. Understand, I know there is time when everyone suffers. It may be 30 days or 60 days but 14 days? The cost to live is so high who can save hard cash are few. Some just can't save anything and spend, but there are those who try, I mean really try. 14 days and people are protesting and to me this shows how severe things are in this economy. It's not poor planning on those who are "broke". The only thing broken is the people who took our money. We trusted our government and they put cameras on every corner "watching us" and listening to our calls and emails. While they watch us and listen, who's watching our money and hearing what we say?

    October 13, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  12. Belvarie Varnado

    Are the retired military not getting their checks? Why hasn't CNN or any other news sources speak out about it? We've had many, many shut downs before and it's never been like this. I blame Obama totally for this. He has chosen to try to hurt people. He's a vindictive man.

    October 13, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  13. Hawk in Texas

    I see that there are a lot of tea party trolls posting here trying to put the blame for this shut down on the president and the democrats. i have news for you losers, the sane people voting will be voting all the tea party republicans out of office in 2014. and that also means the majority of republicans.

    October 13, 2013 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  14. Root Cause

    The real problem is the tricks played by both sides that often rely on omnibus (all or nothing) funding bills to bloat the deficit. I fully support the HOUSE efforts to do piecewise funding so that critical and necessary government functions are fully funded while the pork is purged from the budget.

    October 13, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  15. Keep Fear ALive

    Congress has passed budgets for 230 years, as well as the ones responsible for keeping the government running ... at what point did this become the "BLACK PRESIDENTS Job " ??

    Dear PHILIP .... you can dress this Zombie up all you want but the majority of the electorate ( the ones who are allowed to turn their stations to another channel but FOX ) all KNOW that it's the GOP's fault ... and all you troll on here who try to pretend that it has anything to with the presidents leadership, are probably missing fundemental Brain Matter ..or you're just in denial as you preach to a hope fillled chior ..

    October 13, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  16. oldsarg

    Obama is the 1st president to turn his back on our men and women in harms way.

    Obama is the 1st president to directly attack veterans and their service to this Nation.

    Obama is the 1st president to use the NSA to monitor the communication of senior military officers and use that information to suppress their honest voice and to order them to resign under threat of losing their benefits.

    Those serving in the defense of this Nation have no trust for the man sitting in the president's office. Obama is endangering the future of this Nation.

    October 13, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  17. Terry

    This is from the VA;

    During the government shutdown, VA medical centers, clinics and other health services have advance appropriations for 2014 and will remain open. VA has funds available to ensure claims processing and payments in the compensation, pension, education, and vocational rehabilitation programs will continue through late October. However, in the event of a prolonged shutdown, claims processing and payments in these programs will be suspended when funds are exhausted.

    DFAS Website concerning Vet retirement pay;


    Will I continue to get paid during the government shutdown?

    Yes, military retiree and annuitants are not paid from CRA appropriations, so they will be paid on the regular schedule.
    Will my pay be on time?

    Yes. At this time, DoD contingency plans provide for on-time payments for retirees and annuitants.

    Viewing the PDF at the VA...they will be able to fully fund 97% of their employees but at the same token not be able to process any vet payments or any other payment for that matter. My question is this...WTH are they working for? I can understand hospitals and hospital staff but the vets get left out in the cold while the administrators get paid...CRAP! The sad thing about this is it should have been included in the Military bill just passed, but thanks to this No Negotiations stance the vets get left out in the cold once again.

    October 13, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  18. sammy750

    When the law makers can spent $50 million on a plane, 21 of them. then send them to the boneyard in Tucson AZ from the manufacturing plant, The least the law makers can do is fund the nation. They are wasting billions on the military. Ask Brown and Portman in OH.

    October 13, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  19. sammy750

    Law makers waste billions in military funding just to keep jobs in their states.

    October 13, 2013 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  20. Scott

    Crystal, you are wrong it is on tuesday. There is one today but not being led by VSO's. Tuesday at 10 am. We all need to be there.

    October 13, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  21. Tiffani

    The protest is today. There are already over hundreds of vets there. They have taken the barriers down themselves. Good job with accurate news coverage **sarcasm**

    October 13, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  22. Jim in PA

    The Democrats need to hold firm and demand nothing short of a full reopening of the government. Granting piecemeal funding of specific programs only allows a minority party to effectively de-fund the programs they don't like. Sorry, but the veterans are no more important that the kids dying of cancer that are now being withheld treatment due to NIH budget cuts. And any patriotic veteran would agree with that.

    October 13, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  23. chet

    I am a vet receiving combat disability and va checks for the medical problems I received while in the military. The situation going on is a sad state of affairs. As noted Obama doesn't care and neither does his cronies. Reed and Pelosi are sadist. maybe there pay should be cut.

    October 13, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  24. Cindy

    I say any of them unwilling to vote or negotiate she to party lines be knocked out of office and charged with terrorism. Because it is an attack on our country. They argue and fight over idiotic things. They r fine with hundreds of thousands of men that faught for our country, that whole families sacrificed for their freedom, and the elderly that payed in their taxes for years so they could receive their salaries today to go hungry. But still have ads on tv for free cell phones. It makes me sick. And still sending money to other countries when we can't even support our selves. And all people do is blame obama or beohner, they r all to blame. We must take a stand. And this country must do away with political parties. Either run as American for Americans or don't run at all. Our leaders are devided yet they want us to be united. Lol doesn't any one remember they saying devided we fall!!!!!!??

    October 13, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  25. Ronald

    How can our President Have a smile on his face.People are hurting in this country it is no joke time for both sides to sit down and solve the problems we are facing toda.

    October 13, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
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