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. Can you see that bankruptcy court lines forming soon?

    These vets survive on their benefits. The employees at the base MUST work, but uncertain about when they will get paid. I see HUGE issues in housing, credit card bills that will not get paid etc. And all of these people have excellent credit. Someone needs to figure it out. I'm upset with both sides. The social security folks who are 65 and over...they paid into it..and no money now? This is wrong. How many people do YOU personally know who is a drug addict etc and they BEAT the system. You and I know they CAN work..they choose not to. This needs to change.

    October 13, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  2. David

    You better believe I'm blaming Obama. He's the leader. If you can blame Bush, even 6 years removed, you can blame this guy in office. I've had enough of this guy. He will go down as one of the worst, if not the worst presidents in history.

    October 13, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  3. cookie

    The terrible way the country has been treating the vets started with George Bush and his gang of four. The only people the vets should blame for the shutdown are the crazy Tea Party members of Congress and those Republicans who are no better than sheep to follow them. I hope every family who has a member either in the armed forces or those who bravely fought in the past, vote against these people who have no respect for the sacrifices made on behalf of our country. The Republicans who have tried to limit health care benefits for vets should have their health care benefits for them and their families stripped so they can learn some empathy and understanding. Probably too much for them to do! This e-mail is from a Obama supporter who has been against wars, but who respects the veterans and not the Republicans who vote to put men and women overseas to fight crazy wars and don't have the decency to uphold their contracts of care for health services to them!

    October 13, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  4. 44calibergnome

    BHO has supposedly had six years of "leadership", but his myopic backers still try to "blame Bush" for all of this Kenyan fool's failures. Let's face it, this president is the most incompetent, ineffective and generally useless person to ever hold the office. He never has, and never will, experienced any real world leadership. History will remember him primarily as the worst president (if fact the worst political leader EVER), and only as a secondary footnote will be the fact that he was the first black president. His legacy is already set in stone as the most shamefully inept in history. His presidential library will probably set up in a Chicago comic book store.

    October 13, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  5. gstlab3

    anyone involved in cutting off our veterans from medical care,cash payments and access to the memorials built to honor the nations heros of war should be cut off from any future tax payer funded money and benefits forever.,
    any persons involved in helping to crash the economy should also be taken to trial for high crimes and treason.

    October 13, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  6. gstlab3

    I hope we can throw out all these criminal traitors., bums etc.., and elect some honest, younger smart God fearing constitution observing Americans to office in 2014 and 2016

    October 13, 2013 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  7. hubert39

    With the GOP House having a 70% disapproval rating I think the shutdown might be over this week or next week. I know when it reaches 85% disapproval rating the Republicans might give up. But not the Tea Party.
    As long as we have a black president they won't be satisfied.

    October 13, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  8. Disabled Combat Veteran

    It is unwise, proven through centuries if history, to have those who stand the walls in protection of the people from both foreign and domestic threat, to deny them those essential means of life that are promised them for their sacrifice, considering that they have been trained in the art of war and have practice and implemented tends to not end well for those in power regardless if political party.

    October 13, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  9. sandalwood1191

    As soon as the vets and truckers got near the WH Barry deserted his post. Jumped in AF! helicopter and left. What a coward.

    October 13, 2013 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  10. Scissor Hands

    By now it should be apparent that something other than agreeing on a budget and passing a debt ceiling is at stake. That something is to demonstrate what a rotten president Obama is. In effect, the GOP and its Boehner will do their best to demonstrate a president who won't budge on the issues. There is also a hidden race issue with Boehner. Ultimately, the GOP's hope is to get a Republican president after the next election. How far does this nonsense go? The fools (esp. the Republicans), just may let the country default. Then again, this could just mean that all fingers would point to the GOP as the ones responsible. It is this writer's belief that both the shutdown and debt ceiling will be settled before the 12th hour. But, what a shame that the American people and world governments have to be wringing their hands over the bunch of fools we have in Washington. The big truth here is not the shutdown nor the debt, but that the voters (other than the very rich) have NO representative government. This archaic 2-party system is a dead duck in the water. Anyone for sinking that duck?

    October 13, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  11. Namefireheart

    Good. The longer this shut down goes on the more people will realize the truth that this government doesn't give a flick about them. We went to war for corporate greed and elitist wickedness and killed a ton of innocents. Now those that did the killing are finding that those they did it for don't care a bit. I know most of these vets are personally very good people. But they need to learn the hard truth about who and what they really fought for because it was not for the American people.

    October 13, 2013 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  12. JosephLoerzel

    The Tea Party folks will just tell them to do what the New Mexico TP representative told federal workers – get a loan.

    October 13, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  13. GarryOwen27

    I too am a veteran. With that and $5 I can get a cup of coffee at most fast food establishments.

    October 13, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  14. marc

    Lets hope the veterans don't let the teabags come running over to photobomb their protest to make it look like the veterans are on their side.

    October 13, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  15. ohio

    for those of you who are clearly just out to say Obama can do know wrong, read deeper, park rangers say they were ordered to make things as miserable as possible, even at open air memorials that require NO staff, of and you might look at the senate who thanks to Reid and company are sitting on no less THAN 26 funding bills....that he wont allow to even come up for debate......your ignorance of the facts is obvious

    October 13, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  16. Chris

    In 2006,.Obama said raising the debt ceiling was irresponsible. Now he demands it. He's a hypocritical LIAR.

    October 13, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  17. Sue

    –The Vets know and understand what "really" happened at Benghazi, and it had nothing to do with some stupid You Tube video.

    –The Vets know and understand what "really" happened when Obama was caught on a hot mic telling Russia "Wait until after the election, I will have more leeway"

    –The Vets know and understand what "really" happened when Binladen was killed, the Seals were thrown under the bus and the majority now dead.

    –The Vets know and understand that the Fort Hood shootings/murders were NOT "worksite violence"

    –The Vets know and understand what "really" happened when elderly, handicapped Veterans were denied access to their memorials–by the incompetent, corrupt, child and liar in our White House taking a temper tantrum--–But, yet this same "President" a few days later-allowed/accommodated millions of illegals to protest at the closed DC Mall "demanding" rights that they do not deserve.

    You go Vets!!! Wake up your families and friends as well-to what is "really" going on under the rodeo clown's "regime".

    October 13, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  18. Dory

    This mess in Washington was caused by BOTH parties. They are acting like little kids, If they don't get their way, they go home. We need to CLEAN out Washington and start over again.with Term limits, people voting for politicians pay increases, it can be done every four years at election time, no cost increase necessary. They play with our money, we should be entitled to know how it is being spent.

    October 13, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  19. Dean

    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.---------–Thanks to Harry Reid for the no-vote.

    October 13, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  20. tas

    This is CLASSIC liberal extremism. We had a similar budget problem in upstate NY. So the liberals shut down all the functions of government that directly affect the people who need assistance the most. Of course the bureaucrats making six-figure salaries at the water authority are totally untouched. The exact same thing is happening at the federal level. What a total farce.
    We need to cut spending, everybody knows we need to reduce it. But rather than rationally sit down and cut unneeded spending, they cut injured veteran payments for food.

    October 13, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  21. Dean


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

    Don't count on it. Every voter will say that congress needs to be replaced except for the ones in my state. Don't believe me, look at Charlie Ranel.

    October 13, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  22. SteveZ

    It's not about Republican or Democrat...they are both equally to blame and ANY party holding a seat from Congress, to the White House is going to witness us Veterans and our displeasure of the way things are running right now. We stand for Americans, and want the government that we swore to protect open and operational to serve you, and us, the people.

    October 13, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  23. Brian Smith

    What you mean the government would rather give away free money and benefits for life to these people, but will not turn around and do that for welfare recipients? Aren't they the same thing?

    October 13, 2013 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  24. Nicole

    We are NOT getting our benefits. I am a veteran who served in the US Army, and along with disabled vets, we are not getting any money while shut down is going on. Think about the soldier with both of his legs removed America, he is being told no money for serving and protecting this country! The republicans are trying to think about the longer picture here america. We are printing more and more money 17 trillion or more in debt which lowers our dollars worth, it will collapse we cannot keep borrowing money! The republicans tried to keep national parks and vets getting paid, THE DEMOCRATS AND PRESIDENT SAID NO! They want the whole government opened first. Well neither side can agree, knowing that, they should have passed extra bills to protect the very men and women who protected them and their families! I think we all can agree the veterans are one area that should NOT be messed with. People live only for today not thinking about tomorrow, it is OUR country, start reading into our borrowing and debt problems, IT IS SERIOUS!! I watched yet again the president turn down ANOTHER offer from the republicans, no matter how this started, i see a side trying to fix it now, and its not being allowed. I watched an outcry over welfare yesterday, and thought where is the outcry from americans who the disabled vets not getting their money. I know we are not the only ones affected and worried, but we are special, the wounded vets are special. They paid the ultimate price for us, they should have respect from the government and americans. I read a comment why are complaining they are getting their benefits, DONT PEOPLE READ??? WE ARE NOT GETTING OUR BENEFITS. Please everyone support your military and vets, keep them in prayers and thoughts, some are suicidal and this may set them over the edge. I am stressed with two kids and a husband who now has to work two jobs because i am in college bettering myself and I wont get my housing benefit for november now. This is serious stuff.. Government ALL needs to work together.

    October 13, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  25. Former USAF SSgt

    Vote out everyone involved in this childish tantrum sponsored by the Tea Party. Mainstream Republicans are too afraid of the extremists in their own party. Boehner needs to grow a pair and do what's right for Everyone in our wonderful nation. The House agreed on and passed the budget – how can they now not fund it? Because they don't give a D*mn about veterans, the working class, or the poor! They represent the 1%, and no one else.

    I was a Republican when I served under Reagan; I can now see that the Republican Party does not represent the interests of most Americans – they won't stop until they completely destroy the middle class

    October 13, 2013 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
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