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. Hawk in Texas

    Veterans should think backwards also. every time we have ever had a republican president and majority they cut veterans benifits. we disabled veterans that use the V.A. health system know this only too well. the republicans have allways cut our health benifits.

    October 13, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  2. PrettyFingFunny

    Who are these Tea Party people? They must be from Europe or somewhere?

    October 13, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  3. newz4i

    Tea Parties pushed to shut down OUR government to rid OUR country from the Affordable Care Act. They didn't want to pay for the U.S's poor nor its minorities: "others." OUR almighty veterans got caught up in the Right's self-serving insanity. Therefore TPs blame Obama. Who's noticing this madness? Well, non-Tea Partiers.

    October 13, 2013 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  4. Indie Hawk

    It's amazing with this disaster occurring under a leader who has been unable to attain agreement by his fellow colleagues (the performance requirement of a successful President), that many people are unintelligent enough to blame the least significant group among the establishment, the Tea Party. Ironically (?), that group being slandered and blamed, they honestly have principled ideas which would serve to help the crisis everyone else seems so hell-bent on keeping alive. Makes you wonder.

    October 13, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  5. Cnederbr

    Owebama and his tools in the media and the rest of the demoncratic party do not care about veterans. It's just that simple.

    October 13, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  6. VegasSmitty

    I hope they go armed and clean out D.C.

    October 13, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  7. Anonymous

    Don't dare blame Obama! The house of representatives has the votes to open and Boehner, "the bigot" can't deal with Obama being president. This is personal not politics. The Republicans ran up the huge debt under Bush. How fast we forget. Vote out Republicans that did this.

    October 13, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  8. Pam D

    It is going on RIGHT NOW. What do you mean, Tuesday morning? What pathetic reporting. If you want more info, go to the Million Vet March on the Memorials Facebook page.

    October 13, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  9. pyusmc66

    The tea party doesn't give a damn about veterans, or anybody else except the 1% who can weather the shutdown and debt crisis. As a 100% service connected disabled veteran, I don't want any special consideration over the millions of other Americans who are being hurt by this fiasco. FIX IT.

    October 13, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  10. Boobuns

    Why are they complaining? Their benefits aren't being cut off.

    October 13, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  11. Evelyn Connaway

    I noticed some comments about the President closing the war memorials. How very strange, I know for a fact he didn't order or sign any bill for a shutdown – nor was he sent one to veto! The GOP who brag about holding the purse strings are the jokers who shutdown our government. You people who make those silly claims about everything is President Obama's fault, need to grow up and really learn what is going on and has been for 50 years! The insidious cancer of the republican party has wound its slimy tentacles around the outside 1%, The Supreme Court, Corporations and into the republican portion of our government, all bought and paid for by the money they made by not paying taxes. It has ensnared many of the democrats over the years and some even changed parties – remember when Ronald Reagan was a democratic governor of CA? I do and people considered him a good governor! For the 1% monied crowd to back him – he had to change parties, then he became President. The south was full of terrible "Dixiecrats", the evil of the south! Instead of cleaning up their act of being cruel bigoted race haters after the Civil Rights Act passed in 1965, they all switched to becoming the same thing under their new party slogan, the republican party!

    October 13, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  12. David Screeton

    The closing of the open air monuments is a disgraceful action by the Obama administration

    October 13, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  13. Richie

    One possible answer –DO NOT VOTE for ANYONE that is running for reelection –The result will be Term limits

    October 13, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  14. nemo0037

    These vets better watch out. Demanding unearned benefits from the government will earn them the title "moochers" from the Tea Crazies. Vets are being saved from government addiction by the True Patriots... they should be giving thanks to the people who are working to make Washington work the way it did in 1800.

    October 13, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  15. candodan

    Don't dare blame Obama! The house of representatives has the votes to open and Boehner, "the bigot" can't deal with Obama being president. This is personal not politics. The Republicans ran up the huge debt under Bush. How fast we forget. Vote out Republicans that did this.

    October 13, 2013 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  16. Thatsit121

    Democracy involves compromise

    October 13, 2013 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  17. Dave

    Does anyone really believe that the Democrats, Republicans, or for that matter King Obama really gives two toots if anyone else is suffering? All of these individuals are multimillionairs and are not suffering at all. Their attitude is they really don't give a c-ap if anyone else is either. If Congress AND the King did their jobs as assigned by the Constitution we would have a lot less problems. If the Affordable Health Act, Obamacare, was so great why are they having so many problems with it already? Why does it create such hate? Why have 34 of the 50 states filed law suits against it. It is not the peoples will, it was the Democrats will who forced it through legislation like a steam roller. As it presently stands it is a boondoggle of utter proportions. If it really needs to be implemented they better start all over and do it right, check it, recheck it, and explain it to the public better.
    I can see a lot of current congressmen and senators being voted out of office at the next available election and the POTUS position up for grabs as neither the Kings party or Republicans party being favored.

    October 13, 2013 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  18. Dave

    I can see a whole lot of sitting political chairs changing fat rumps at the next election.

    October 13, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  19. Whatup

    Obama was absolutely correct in 2006 when has said raising the debt was due to a lack of leadership. That statement holds true today and he is the leader.

    October 13, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  20. RJ

    I cant help but wonder how much money was spent to "shutdown" monuments and parks that require little funding. Democrats have even shut down private businesses which are located on public roads! Even a park which received NO federal funding! This can only be done by design. Liberals will try to claim that these are just errors in judgment, but this has become a pattern of fear and hatred by liberals. Shame on them!

    October 13, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  21. James Barkeep

    Blaming Obama for idiots holding the government hostage over a bill they know will destroy THEM? You're stupid. If Obamacare was terrible, they would clean up in 2014 and 2016 by letting it proceed as planned. They know what is and put all their eggs in one basket. It's the same thing they pushed in the 90's and was a cornerstone of Bob Dole's presidential campaign. They're only pissed because Obama stole their ideas.

    October 13, 2013 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  22. Steve

    The shutdown isn't just affecting veterans. But it will continue because there is one group that it isn't affecting – the people who caused it in the first place. Their paychecks and benefits have continued unchecked.

    October 13, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  23. zaggs

    Glad to see the Barrycades coming down! FOr all the morons trying to say "Blame the GOP for shutting down the memorials". PLease, stop with your asinine whining. Memorials were never closed in any previous shutdown. THey are open to the PUBLIC 24/7/365. They are only closed now because the Child-King Obama is having another one of his tantrums.

    October 13, 2013 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  24. NameUSN Veteran

    The Veterans of U.S. Are No One To Screw Over.Remember...These Are The Ones That Fight & Die ...For The Freedom We Have In This Country. .In The Wars Our Government Sends Us To Fight.Remember Who keeps Our Strong...Not The Politican, In Govt.Tho, There Are Vets There Too.And They The Politican Should Be Ashamed To Call Themselves Veterans.To Let Our Goverment Shut Down Any Part Of Our Gov.Exspecially Veterans Organizations And Any Rights Of Our Vets, That Owed & Belong To Them..BY Their Bood , Sweat , And Tears..How Dare You.....Our Goverment Better Watch Themselves .Before They Start Something They Can't Begin To Imagine The OutCome Watch Yourselves ...YOUR ON CALL.....By People The .For The People.....

    October 13, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  25. cptdondo

    The blame belongs to both sides, but let's face it: it looks like this shutdown was orchestrated by House Republicans almost a year ago.

    Yes, Obama is not the best negotiation out there, but to negotiate the other side has to be willing to compromise. Listen to the rhetoric coming from them:

    “Compromising is one thing as long as you’re compromising and moving in the direction of your principles. If you’re compromising and moving away from the direction of your principles, I’m not sure it’s a compromise.” House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Tom Price of Georgia

    In other words, the House Republicans have no intention of compromising, of working towards a common goal. They want to drag the other guy towards their principles. And since for them they see any change in direction as a failure, they don't mind sinking the ship for everyone else.

    Thus the stalemate.

    It's too bad because we badly need a reasonable balance of power. It's not a balance when one of the two parties is willing to sink the ship if they can't steer it where they want.

    October 13, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
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