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. Dave

    It's time for both sides to compromise ans settle this for vets and everyone affected by this debacle.

    October 13, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  2. Julie Labrouste

    The republican/tea party could've funded the entire government in 10 minutes, this whole time and can still do that at any moment. This is entirely on them. If veterans (like myself) want to point fingers, point them at the republican/tea party; I'm not accepting anything until they fund the government and raise the debt ceiling REGARDLESS.

    October 13, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. Valkyrie


    Yes. And hopefully, most of them understand why the President must take a stand and not allow the GOP to get away with undermining our democracy by shutting down the government and holding us all hostage for the sake of a few issues that have nothing to do with running the government or paying our debts. The President must protect the integrity of our democratic process, and not set a dangerous precedent for future presidents by caving to the GOP's manipulative tactics and demands.

    October 13, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. BIll

    Don't worry the illegals are still getting excellent care here in San Francisco.

    October 13, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  5. james

    I'm a retired veteran myself, who's not able to go to doctor appointments, or receive the benefits & care that I need. There are millions of us Vets out there in the same or worse situations then mine. I'm not gonna to be able to pay any of my bills, or do anything except possibly get kicked out of my house for no rent due to the lack of Maturity and Selfish people in Washington causing this shutdown.
    I've got friends and family who are on WIC due to being single parents with children, they aren't able to buy food, diapers, etc. cause of this Shutdown. Where are all these so called Polls coming from why can't I participate in them (the average american)? from what i've seen as for these Polls, they look faked to make this party or that party look bad/better. Washington is supposed to listen to the people of this Great Country, but they aren't, the President ain't listening either. All the games need to stop, and veterans along with the rest of the US are way beyond upset/angry. THIS IS CHILDISH & IMMATURE of our elected officials!!!!!! There are many ways to deal with different bills that have been passed that we don't like. The Democrats & the President are also causing this shutdown, by not listening to Republicans on issues like: Veterans Benefits, DHS/WIC, Death Benefits, etc. The Administration needs to step down and let a budget pass before we go into Default. Congress, Senate & the President still get paid during times like these. Take the checks away from the ones who can't and won't do what's best for this country!!! Go to rightsightings and see the truth about the political hogwash.....

    October 13, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  6. RT Colorado

    Impassioned pleas aside, being a veteran myself, I have little faith that sufficient veterans will show up to influence the process. It'll take hundreds of thousands to make an impact. The truth is the polarity of the political process is so strident that nothing short of dramatic action will have an effect. That being said, the end to the shutdown is within sight. Regardless of how the Democrats or the Republicans may feel about a deal, they will be forced into a deal. No one is going to like it, everyone will claim the other side folded, but the sad reality is Americans dislike each other so much that this what life in the US is going to look like for as far as anyone can see.

    October 13, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  7. Vets

    How long until VA benefits become an entitlement? Do you think the Tea Party actually cares about vets?

    October 13, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  8. Tim Barnett

    Blame the tea bag and the republicans is what I'm hearing. Havent't you be really listening to whats been happening? Y ou can't believe the democric media either. Before the shutdown the Republican house produced 4 bills to obamas democratic senate to keep the government open and they were all rejected right along with the bills that obama have rejected to reopen the government. obama, the senate and the house are all at fault here. Remember that in the 2014 and 2016 elections! Sign the impeach obama petition at starbucks!

    October 13, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  9. Name Mary

    If you're going to protest, atleast be specific about you want. Telling Congress and Washington to "work together" is so vague. I am a veteran also dependent on GI Bill payments to fund my education and I want the shutdown to end. BUT I also want the President to stand his ground on his healthcare law. The Supreme Court upheld it and the voters reelected him last November. The GOP needs to stop this temper tantrum and accept that the Affordable Care Act is law. Newsflash: Romney lost!

    October 13, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  10. The Tax Man

    The Traitor Obama is the cause of all this harm to the US and our Veterans. Get rid of him and his phony "affordable" health care trash. There is no reason for the shutdown and reason not to pay our bills. Obama is a drama queen and wants the middle class to suffer and then blame it on the Tea Party because the Tea Party is actually the savior of America. I look forward to the day that the word "Obama" will just bring laughter instead of tears.

    October 13, 2013 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  11. Slwood

    They are not doing there job.....If we didn't perform at work,we'd be FIRED......WE need to get rid of them come election time.......VETERARANS paid there dues......This is effecting soooo many Americans.......It costing so much.....Stop this crazyness and go back to work ...For all Americans!

    October 13, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  12. Bristar

    The Veterans have reopened the Memorials today and returned the Barrycades to the White House. Feel free to watch the live stream on UStream.

    October 13, 2013 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  13. Herman

    This government situation a by far the ultimate disgrace that this country has ever faced. I am a Disabled U.S. Army Veteran, and I as well as many more Veterans depend on the little bit that we do get each month as compensation for giving of our selves and suffering for it to make sure that this GREAT COUNTRY remains free and great, The Congress has passed several bills to get things back up and running but the IDIOT Senate Leader and the Muslim Brotherhoods PUPPET in the White House have refused to pass or sign off on any of them because it would force Obama and Reid to stop the outrageous spending spree that the Obama family and administration have been on for 6 years.

    October 13, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  14. Books Will Save The Planet

    The truly ignorant aspect of delaying benefits is the fact that the Federal Government does has a reserve benefits option that can be activated. The dullards just do not appear to want to stop their abuse of power, ego trips, long enough to take a clear look at the reality citizens living outside Washington DC are facing. If an investigation by a Special Prosecutor were undertaken the ethical, moral, and illegal manner by which the architects of the Shutdown were executed would spin heads. Those who support the shutdown may argue the men they placed within their seats are doing what the people want. Unfortunately what we want may not always be what's best for the country, or even legal.

    October 13, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  15. Tennessee Observer

    Blame: According to the article the Reid's Senate will not pass the bill to fund the VA. And I recall that the Senate has not passed a budget leading us into this mess. Let's face the real issue – the Federal Government is too big to manage with a partisan political process. Turn all social programs over to the states (all of them have a balanced budget amendment). Somehow I think the sun will rise every single morning without the intervention of an all-powerful central government in all of our daily lives.

    October 13, 2013 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  16. California

    Obama clearly is making the middle class suffer for his shutdown. He's even going out of his way.

    October 13, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  17. YeahISaidItSoWhat

    As a retired USAF 50% disabled vet with nearly 30 years of service, what I'd sure like to find out is if the Federal government is still sending foreign aid payments across the world while the shutdown is going on. If so, that is one of the biggest hypocrisies in this whole mess. Does anybody know if our taxpayer funds are being launched overseas while my fellow vets and I stand to not receive our disability payments because of these Brainiacs?

    October 13, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. Sam

    I hope these veterans lay the blame on those who deserve it - the traitors who call themselves Tea Party patriots.

    October 13, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  19. Concerned citizen

    One of my co- workers has a son in law over seas. Just got sent maybe 2-3 weeks ago and they only get 2 food vouchers for the day. Was told they can choose only 2 meals for the day, either it be breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This is because of the shutdown. This is wrong.

    October 13, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  20. barry soetoro foe

    It amazes me that people rely on CNN for news! CNN is the most biased and bought news outlet in the world run by socialists/fascists/communists... whatever you want to call them and do not care at all about presenting any sort of fair reporting! Thhis article states that the VETS will march on DC on Tuesday yet the VETS are already there in DC NOW and they arent covering it. Let me declare martial law for a week here in the USA and watch CNN go out of business and watch as I also get rid of the Federal Reserve, dissolve COngress and hold immediate elections ... BUT... if you are currently in COngress, you wont be eligible to run under my elections! I would have all military members serving overseas home ASAP and just abandon the bases we leave behind for the host country to deal with.... I would cancel ALL financial aid to every country and keep that money home to pay down the debt....I would repeal the Patriot Act and the NDAA and I would also dismantle the Dept of Homeland Security immediately. As a retired member of our great Armed Services, I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States against enemies foreign and DOMESTIC... and thats where we are now, the enemy is within... it is both parties, republicans and democrats alike and shame on us ALL for electing Barry Soetoro as President... a well documented marxist communist/socialist and place him in a position to destroy us... dont be surprised if Barry invokes Dictatorship soon... God Bless the USA

    October 13, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  21. Former Marine that Believes in Constitutional Government

    @Former USAF SSgt

    Stop drinking the Kool-Aid. The Tea Party is not the problem. Overspending, inside-the-belt-way, pro-socialism politicians are the problem.

    Amazing how many idiots in this country don't realize that the "Tea Party" adheres to the principles of the Founders not Obama and his EBT card minions.

    October 13, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  22. Horsense

    I'm sorry I couldn't have been there and supported my Air Force Sergeants Association and Vietnam Veteran friends.

    Take one gate over to 1600 for me please.

    October 13, 2013 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  23. Gene

    The tea party and many of the republicans are about as anti-American as any external threat we have ever faced. I dedicated 21 years of my life to the United States Marine Corps defending American values. Now a bunch of pee-party anarchists and their lemming followers are destroying this country from the inside. Somebody needs to put a stop to this, by any means necessary!

    October 13, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  24. JOJO

    What About all the vet's
    And all the people that are disabled people that like me and my dad that is a veteran what do we do when we are kicked out of are home because we can't get pay are rent

    October 13, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  25. Holmes66

    I find it ironic how some veterans rant and rave against spending and at the same time rant an rave for spending that benefits them. How many of these would favor a reduction in the obscene military budget which is 40% of the world's total on such spending and 8 times as much as #2, China spends.

    Furthermore were it not for the GOP military misadventures disabled vets wouldn't be as dependent on "big government".

    October 13, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
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