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. jeff

    This is why the cops have the same equipment as the military.

    October 13, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  2. Dan Slaby

    President Obama is the most competent Commander in Chief I've known; a President whose courage to remain silent before his accusers while contemplating the advice of his commanders, balancing the military cost against political reality, and always putting country before politics. He is respected by those he respects for the bravery, duty and honor in serving this nation faithfully.

    It is the Tea Party Republicans who are deceiving the veterans with their political posturing and austerity budget defunding veteran health care and health care for working Americans who lack health care.

    Veterans beware; if you are angry, be angry at the Tea Party politicans who pretend concern and incite "government taking your rights away", yet insist on taking away the funding for your rights.

    Vietnam Vet, 5th SF Det B-36 3rd Mobile Strike Force

    October 13, 2013 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  3. oaksavanna

    I hope everyone knows which group is responsible for this shut down and isn't buying the 'spin' from the teaparty. Veterans should understand hostage situations and not blame the ones being held hostage.

    October 13, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  4. RRMON

    Do it in the name of Heaven
    You can justify it in the end
    There won't be any trumpets blowing
    Come the judgment day
    On the bloody morning after who...
    One tin soldier rides away–Coven

    Marines, Semper Fi

    October 13, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  5. New Beginings

    @reality President Obama cares as much about you as he does for the vets. Zilch. Zero. Nodda. You and everyone else are numbers to him, not people. The sooner that he and those republican/democrat traitors lose the support of blind sheeple like you, the sooner the country and its people can focus on rebuilding.

    October 13, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  6. Perry

    No! their insane hatred of people with pigmentation is to great.

    October 13, 2013 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  7. Wendy

    Without the people in the military and veterans their wouldn't be a government.

    October 13, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  8. Chris

    I think the military would be most effective to confront the Tea Party loons who are holding our country hostage and subverting our democracy.

    October 13, 2013 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  9. L.Sanfod

    The whole country is SHOCKED watching the way the GOP/TEA is self destructing! You can try to blame the shutdown on Obama but the sane people know better. The republican shutdown is hurting everyone's families.

    October 13, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  10. peary85

    They should be in front of the Capitol in particular the House side as it is Boehner that is not allowing the vote that would reopen the Federal Government and therefore the monuments. The President doesn't have a bill on his desk that he's not signing. If you want more facts you can find the. On Chris Van Hollen's Facebook wall where he posted a CSpan clip where he asked why the House changed it's rules so that only Boehner or his designee can introduce a bill on the floor. There is a majority in the house that have made public statements that they would vote for the clean CR that the Senate passed which would reopen the Government.

    October 13, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  11. Thomas

    Speaker , put a clean spending bill on the floor for a vote now !

    The veterans and the whole of the county needs a functioning government !

    Ted Cruz dose not represent the American people !

    October 13, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. Former USAF Msgt

    To Nicole,

    You have got to stop being brainwashed by FOX news!! Obviously, you have not been following how this whole mess happened in the first place. Your politics and the politics of the Tea Party was overwhelmingly rejected by voters last election. So instead of getting what you and they want, you think it's okay to hold government workers ransom rather than working to get more of the people you agree with elected? You don't agree with the results of an election, so you think extortion is okay? It is the Tea Party along with Boehner who shut down the government in the first place. Get your facts straight!! You are falling for the propaganda of right wing news. The democrats have said all along, no government office or agency should be shut down. If Boehner and the Tea Party extortionists get what they want, what's to stop them from shutting down the government everytime they don't have enough votes to get what they want? I am a veteran too as well as my husband. My husband now works as a government contractor, as well as my son. So my family is taking this in the shorts from many fronts. A big difference between me and you is I deeply believe NO GOVERNMENT WORKER should ever have to lose pay because one party can't get the votes and decides to shut some of the goverment down. You feel strongly about the debt, then get out there and try to get your side elected. Acting as extortionists, the Boehner and theTea Party have become domestic terrorists, and President Obama and the democrats are doing the right thing not giving into terrorism. And you're typical of the right wing mindset - you ONLY care about what affects you directly. You are more upset about what is not getting reopened rather than putting the blame on who shut the government down in the first place. Even though my family is suffering from Boehner's extortion, I stand by President Obama not it giving into it and hope he stays the course. I know that will do evrrything in my power to volunteer next year, canvass neighborhoods, make phone calls to remind tea party constituents who voted to shut this government down. As far as debt, where was all this concern when Bush misled us into two unpaid for wars? Not a peep out of Boehner and friends then (and I suspect you either).

    October 13, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  13. Disabled Veteran and Retiree

    Nicole and others who think the Republicans and the Tea Party are their friends....they are not. And they are not thinking of anything except their own agendas, much less a future. These are the folks who shut down the government and in the process cut off our checks. They are now threatening to lead us to default, as they did to a lowered credit rating three years ago. They came back and said they would fund veterans and open the parks because that is causing them pressure and discomfort, like when they "forget" that soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan would not have death benefits go to their family to bury them. Then, suddenly, after the media play and public outrage, they were embarrassed into action and all of them managed to pass a bill. Remember, this was not about fiscal anything; it started off as poorly thought through effort to defund the Affordable Care Act, which provides for many Americans health care for the first time ever. This was a law, passed by Congress, signed by the President, and ruled as Constitutional by our majority Republican Supreme Court. If you want to do anything, write your Congressman and tell them to open the government and raise the debt ceiling so you can get your checks at the end of the month!

    October 13, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  14. loomiswebb

    Veterans we understand your frustration and your anger, but despite everything you've done for your country, you are just ONE of the groups of Americans being victimized by the extremists calling the shots in this disgraceful Republican engineered government shut down. Seniors will shortly find themselves without their Social Security checks, little kids are already finding themselves without food... The list goes on and on and on. We are ALL hostages here. We've already seen that these Congressional Republican terrorists are using the exact same ploy over and over again. "Give us what we want or we'll kill more hostages". The President is not going to sacrifice little kids and seniors to save veterans only. You're military. You should understand a hostage situation when you see one. So use your head. Go after the Republican hostage takers. The point of the exercise is to get EVERYBODY through this inane, irresponsible, Republican created nightmare safely. Force John Boehner to bring it to a vote. This could be over in five damn minutes. The votes to reopen the government are already there.

    October 13, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  15. Jamie

    Obama hates military veterans. He wants this to hurt Americans. Never again will I vote Dem!

    October 13, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  16. Geraldinho

    I am an Army veteran who served 8 years and deployed to Iraq 2 times and Afghanistan 1 time and witness my men or other people died in battle in front of me. Even though I am a Brazilian immagrant I am proud to be American citizen. I am 80% rated from the VA and this is my check for surviving because I cannot work and still a young man with a messed up body. I pray and hope the government will open this week. It is a shame that we do so much for this country and we get pooped on in return. If the White House really cared about us, we would still be receiving our pay just like the active duty in uniforms do. I look forward to seeing our brother and sister veterans on Tuesday protesting for us and to send a positive message. But I feel if this continues and nothing happens, I can guarantee there will be a high crime rate, suicides, and people just taking destiny in their own hands. Come on America, let's get this together. At this moment, it is like Divided States of America: Together we fall. Or Divided States of America: Home of the rich, death to the poor.

    October 13, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  17. Jamie

    Stand strong! Go America! Ted Cruz! Rand Paul! Don't cave Boehner!!!

    October 13, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  18. Ron Frank

    Thank you Harry Reid for not supporting veterans.
    As you have not supported veterans may they not support or defend you.

    October 13, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  19. Holmes66

    Jamie, what you are ranting an raving about is the result of the failed "leadership" of those you say need to stand tall, CRUZ, PAUL and BOEHNER.

    As long as they continue do what got us to this place vets and lot of other people will be hurt by their irresponsible actions.

    When you try to gain from extortion what you can't accomplish using the democratic process standing tall in such a fools errand it just plain stupid and un-American.

    40+ failed attempts to repeal Obamacare led to the hostage taking of the economy as the means to the same end. Just plain wrong.

    Nobody likes a sore loser, loser..........

    October 13, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  20. Anthony in California

    Every one of these guys knows how to use a gun.

    But apparently NOT their BRAINS if its the Democrats and Obama they are angry at.
    I thank them for their service but they are the ones who vote these extremist Tea Party "Patriots" into office.

    What type of "Patriot" is willing to shut down the government and hurt veterans because they disagree with a supreme court upheld law, all the while STILL collecting healthcare and a paycheck?

    But hey... you fought for yours/our freedom to protest, so have at it... and lets see who you vote for in 2014.

    October 13, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  21. Anthony in California

    So do the Republicans consider Vets receiving Gov checks MOOCHERS/ TAKERS/ WELFARE RECIPIENTS as well???
    Are vets part of the 47% freeloaders living off the Gov teat?

    Or is the hypocrisy machine running at full steam?

    October 13, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  22. theoldfool1950

    A pox on the house. The congressional Republicans just don't understand what the debt ceiling is. They cannot or will not explain it to their constituencies. If they did they would be voted out of office in the next election. It's time for the people like this to shut up and step aside. For the good of all the American people, and the all people of the western world. This is just another obstacle in the progression of our societal evolution. Like a virus, this too shall pass. But toll will we let it take?

    October 13, 2013 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  23. theoldfool1950

    People who take things without paying for them are moochers. Every time a rich Republican takes a big fat tax break it hurts us all. They keep doing the same things over and over because it benefits them, not because it benefits us. If your congressperson or senator are Republican please write to them, email them, go leave a token of your protest at their office door. (a harmless one) Stop blaming the politicians. Most of you put them there.

    The right wing always complains about how weak the Democrats are. Well they seem to have found a strong front, and for the right reasons. The right reasons for you and me. Support them. If you do, and you let the other side know you are not with them they will cave. And we will be a better country for it. If we really believe that we are a democracy then we have to act like it. Dont point fingers, but you should tell them how you feel and why. If they don't listen they don't get reelected. And that is what they really want. You have the power. Use it. Use it now.

    October 13, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  24. Cam

    I find it amazing that the President and the Democratic led Senate can not get this worked out. The Republicans are idiots. But the President and the Senate are horrible. This thing needs to end.

    October 13, 2013 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  25. LostoneX13

    Hey Washington, take notice….the same people that defended this country overseas are having to handle the fight here at home

    So all you people who “just didn’t have time” to volunteer for military service, created success for yourselves while we
    Americans handled the big “patriotic” jobs.

    Now, with your wealth, WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO CONTRIBUTE??????

    Jabber Jawing online is not volunteering yourself for the preservation of our constitution.

    Giving a $1000 dollars to some 1-800-fix-this isn’t being patriotic!

    Get UP, and DO SOMETHING!

    You have no excuse anymore!!

    Your self centered lives are being called out!

    Are you too good to volunteer your life for the cause? Or are your kids too f’n precious to send off to battle evil?

    I’m curious what makes you big mouth do nothings so special?

    Why do you just get to “COMMENT”, but never “DO”!?

    October 13, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
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