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. Richard Long

    The Obama Regime had guards forcibly remove veterans from "closed" memorials. However an illegal alien protest was allowed to take place in the "closed" National Mall.
    Hate to see what the Regime will do this time?

    October 13, 2013 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  2. Fritz Hohenheim

    God's Own Party dont care. As long as they can use patriotism as an alibi on their flag, that's all they want from the military. They dont care about the people, they are nothing but hot air.

    October 13, 2013 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  3. Phil Davenport

    The office of the president should be a non-partisan office, and the executive branch should also be non-partisan. The president needs to be the advocate of ALL of the people, not the enemy of the people! Also, a 2-year-old tantrum thrower should never have been elected to this office. Let's fund and open the parts of government that we can agree on, and work together to resolve our differences rather than play chicken on the highway of economic life.

    October 13, 2013 03:08 am at 3:08 am |
  4. thomas

    Let's see. First the Republican party lost minorities, then women, then the young over their repressive social policies. Now they are going to anger the military over their handling of the government shutdown. Wonder who will be left.

    October 13, 2013 03:20 am at 3:20 am |
  5. scott N

    Do they want to re-open the government without strings attached or cut services to those in need so that they can get theirs

    October 13, 2013 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  6. Chris T.

    As a workable vet I maintain a second career. Yet, there are others that cannot because of their disabilities. These men and women did not ask to go to war and get injured. They went because their country told them to and they did without question. Now the individuals we elected refuse to honor them with what they gave for their country for. Lets just say a fraction of what those in congress get for their war scares that preparation H will cure. Time to work for the people that voted you in office to care for our country instead of your own platforms. I don't care about congress anymore but I do care about the country I fought for.

    October 13, 2013 04:10 am at 4:10 am |
  7. Name Uche Agonsi

    This extremely irresponsible and unpleasant situation is stirring preludes to most undesirable situations, not only for US, but the whole world. Virtually everything is on finance. Economic experts, world finance bodies, countries, etc,are all warning but on deaf ears, based on selfish interests of a political group.
    To approve individual bills, without others considered unimportant by a click of minority political group, and without enough staff operatives, is one of the most insane idea for any institutional body to postulate. And when opposition party/ minority party of any government learns to shut the government based on its members' wish to implement their policies, and outside the system's authorised framework, or through forceful means, the ugly development MUST not be allowed to rear its head. Americans MUST understand the implications of these Repub actions and must join hands to save, not only the anguish and pains of their various sects, but the world from turmoil.

    October 13, 2013 04:13 am at 4:13 am |
  8. BeverlyNC

    Vets have served our country with honor and sacrifice.Although most Republicans have run from military service they are always looking for the next war. Picking one hurting veterans is one confliict they will not win.
    Republican members of Congress just go home in the middle of a shutdown. Soldiers don't get to walk away nor would they while in service to our country. Republicans do not serve our nation with honor, concern for any American, or what their blackmail is doing to the victims of their tantrum. No more Republicans in 2014 in any elected office.

    October 13, 2013 04:20 am at 4:20 am |
  9. Lilybean58

    It's time for this to end. As a family that depends on a Veteran's disability payment, not to mention a government pension earned after 40 years of service to this county, we will be unable pay for rent, food, medications, gas, etc.. Fortunately, we have families that will help, but many, many disabled veterans do not. They served this country with distinction. It's time for the House to recognize that and take care of them. Enough already!

    October 13, 2013 04:22 am at 4:22 am |
  10. Mary

    And dire circumstances it is..
    The vets and the elderly can NOT work..Most couldn't even get hired if they could work..
    This is a terrible time for able bodied and young to find work..
    To think that the GOP are collecting their pay.. And the money they get paid from outside sources to keep pushing this agenda ..Is more than insanity.. It is treason..
    Terrorist couldn't ask for anything better than what our own politicians are doing right now..
    If taking this country and everyone in it down, is the terrorists agenda.. Then the GOP is the answer to their prayers.. 🙁

    October 13, 2013 04:45 am at 4:45 am |
  11. loops808

    Obama has made it especially hard for Veterans. He put barricades around the WWII Memorial costing more to keep people out. Meanwhile, Pelosi personally thanked Obama for allowing the festival for undocumented immigrants to be allowed in the National Mall. Obama is also denying death benefits to Veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice. He could easily sign the bill to restore these benefits. Clinton or Bush would never have done this to our Veterans. But you won't read about his in the mainstream media.

    October 13, 2013 04:53 am at 4:53 am |
  12. nuclear mike

    Dear Vets...join the rest of America going broke from the National Debt strangling ALL of us...

    October 13, 2013 05:18 am at 5:18 am |
  13. Steven Marshall

    Surely you have to know that the failure of dissabled veteran's to get paid could result in the failure to make payments on the thousands of VA backed mortgage loans and send many into default. This could bankrupt the housing market as well as permantly cancell further payments to these veterans who will be held in default.

    October 13, 2013 05:22 am at 5:22 am |
  14. Michael Lane

    With the Tea Party's shutdown of government to further their own mindless goals, they have severely affected the morale of our military. This provides comfort to the enemy and that is one of the definitions of TREASON. We should serve notice that if they persist, they will be arrested, incarcerated and tried.

    October 13, 2013 05:23 am at 5:23 am |
  15. jasmine

    They can shut down pay for these vets who have fought to keep our country free...knowing they could give their life at any moment.....but continue to pay these idiots who cant come together and make a decision? I hope they do...there is something very wrong in this country and people need to start waking up and reacting to it NOW!

    October 13, 2013 05:24 am at 5:24 am |
  16. jasmine

    How about stop paying the ones who cant make a decision?

    October 13, 2013 05:26 am at 5:26 am |
  17. Tom

    At this point when it comes to dealing with the government especially Obama why waste your breath because he is not from here and could not care less whether we go broke or not. He is a Muslim in sheep's clothing. The only way for him to make his people stronger is to starve the U.S. out and he is doing a fine job! He can blame the Republicans but when the rubber meets the road he is still the President!

    October 13, 2013 05:28 am at 5:28 am |
  18. Jeremy

    Good... I hope this rattles the cages, this Shut Down is a Joke and I hope all the republicans that backed it are tossed out next election. ( I was a Republican at one time... Till all this started... thanks for Converting me..)

    October 13, 2013 05:35 am at 5:35 am |
  19. Jim Bob

    Why do we care what Veterans need? They are users, right? All they did is sacrifice their own selves so that the rest of us could be free to vote in losers who create chaos with no end in sight. Most Veteranas didn't get paid much in the first place and won't be surprised if they're ignored again. The government doesn't need those who served already, they got everything out of them they needed and there is no incentive to make sure they're taken care of now unless we believe in some sort of abstract idea of integrity. The Vets will be ignored just as they always are.

    October 13, 2013 05:41 am at 5:41 am |
  20. A Kickin' Donkey

    I hope this doesn't mean we have to watch another round of grandstanding GOP'er Congressmen bereating park rangers. I also hope news anchors hold Republicans responsible for their words & deeds instead of just putting a microphone in their face and allowing them to spew talking points. For example, Andrea Miitchell may be a pioneering female journalist but she doesn't do her homework, nor does she think well on her feet. I expect the BS to be cut off with facts [or their prior statements] when ANY politician tries to float it. Americans can vote for any lying, immoral, unethical, flipflopping, blowviating politician they want but if the 1st ammendent privaledge comes with any price, isn't it that such chicanery be exposed to "low information" voters?

    October 13, 2013 05:42 am at 5:42 am |
  21. krehator

    Veterans are sick of all the parties. So, if any party thinks it has the favor of veterans, it needs a reality check.

    October 13, 2013 05:43 am at 5:43 am |
  22. Sarah Milnes

    This is somewhat pointless, the only vets who would go broke and can attend are in the washington area. Otherwise if they have the money to spend on traveling to DC in order to protest then they obviously have enough money to survive this shutdown without going broke.

    October 13, 2013 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  23. Disabled Vet

    Vote them out of office. Everyone.

    October 13, 2013 05:45 am at 5:45 am |
  24. Mk82lald

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

    October 13, 2013 05:49 am at 5:49 am |
  25. Sandy

    Vote them out!

    October 13, 2013 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
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