Veterans groups to push to end government shutdown
October 12th, 2013
07:13 PM ET
8 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. doordog

    Get ride of congress.

    October 13, 2013 05:55 am at 5:55 am |
  2. Karl Marx

    Leeches, to heck with them. Get a job. Ask Israel for the money.

    October 13, 2013 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  3. RandyF

    Maybe these guys will quit watching Fox "News" and voting Repub.

    October 13, 2013 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  4. David

    Tell those veterans that after the rally they should each head over and personally visit their representatives office in the House of Representatives. They should point out to them that they (the representatives) have the power to resolve this situation by sending a clean CR and a clean bill lifting the debt ceiling to the president for his signature. Also remind the representatives that each of the veterans has a vote … and a long memory.

    October 13, 2013 06:01 am at 6:01 am |
  5. Name Rebecca Drywater

    I receive a Annuity check each month, and Social Security the middle of the month. My Social Secrity check has already been lowered. I am disabled and can no longer work. Without my checks I will not have a place to leave. My late husband worked for BIA for 30 years and paid into the Annuity. This shutdown is unfair and I don't understand how the USA got to this point in the first place. What about the countries that owes money to America? Call in on it. If we have to either do withhout or have to live with a loWer amount, the crime rate will soar. Kids have to eat, adults have to eat and pay bills. The past Presidents,and the senators now as well as our Presidate need to have their paychecks cut back also. We pay our taxes, where is that money going? You want our military guys doing with less money and etc. Why? They fought and are still fighting to keep America free. Where would we be without them protecting us? Resolve all of this so people can get back to their lives. Leave the monthly benefits and Social Security alone. Leave our militaries alone. Thank You

    October 13, 2013 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  6. Nick

    The arbitrary furloughs are not the fault of Congress. Obama and his appointees have huge discretion in how to spend money. "[W]hat is open and what is not open is largely at the discretion of the president and the heads of the given agencies throughout the federal government," notes John Hudak, a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution.

    Make sure any veterans you know are aware of this little fact.

    October 13, 2013 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  7. Name john d

    Whats the rest of the world thinking ? We really need to look at government as a whole, the current system just isnt working for the people

    October 13, 2013 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  8. Marie MD

    These veterans and current servicemen and women need to stop voting for TEAQUEDA politicians.
    They are, after all, the ones who campaigned and finally shut down the government. Those WWII vets should come back to their memorial and burn those publicity photos king and the flake and other repugs had taken with them!

    October 13, 2013 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  9. Denise

    We need to bring attention to the uncaring people in our government. They are a bunch of clowns. Stop their salaries and see how they like it.

    October 13, 2013 06:10 am at 6:10 am |
  10. Joe Mama

    It was my understanding that the march is a protest against Obama because he closed the memorial in the shutdown.

    How do you close down open space. This is where Obama was unnecessarily blocking people from seeing their parks and monuments as a way to make people suffer needlessly.

    I understand sending workers home, but I don't understand government putting up barriers for people to walk in open space that is available.

    Interesting you cannot find the word Obama once in the article but you will find that the protest is mostly about him.

    I would consider this article interesting spin from CNN.

    October 13, 2013 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  11. Joe Mama

    Here is the petition for the vet march below. As I said this is more of an Obama protest and CNN is miss representing what this is about.

    We, the American people and honored veterans are
    outraged by the senseless closure of our national war memorials. We
    understand that many of these memorials are open 24 hours per day, seven
    days per week with little or no staffing and were paid for with tax
    payer funds.

    We have a right to visit these sacred places and pay respects to those
    that have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

    We are outraged that our Vets have had to "storm" their own war
    memorials – monuments that were already paid for with their blood,
    sweat and tears.

    Our memorials are supposed to be places of peaceful, solemn reflection.
    They should not be places that our veterans have to fight to enter.

    We demand that the memorials be re-opened, and that Congress introduce
    legislation forbidding the shutdown of these memorials during any budget
    disputes.

    October 13, 2013 06:22 am at 6:22 am |
  12. Joe Mama

    We, the American people and honored veterans are
    outraged by the senseless closure of our national war memorials. We
    understand that many of these memorials are open 24 hours per day, seven
    days per week with little or no staffing and were paid for with tax
    payer funds.

    We have a right to visit these sacred places and pay respects to those
    that have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

    We are outraged that our Vets have had to "storm" their own war
    memorials – monuments that were already paid for with their blood,
    sweat and tears.

    Our memorials are supposed to be places of peaceful, solemn reflection.
    They should not be places that our veterans have to fight to enter.

    We demand that the memorials be re-opened, and that Congress introduce
    legislation forbidding the shutdown of these memorials during any budget
    disputes.

    October 13, 2013 06:23 am at 6:23 am |
  13. Shanon

    So our government is going to hold our nations finest hostage. The fact that it has come to this doesn't speak well or in favor our sitting government officials. No matter your party, your loyalties, your gender, your race, your credo.....This should make you angry enough to sit up and take notice. I will happily see ALL of you out of office before this kind of playground antics is allowed to continue. Stop the tit for tat, I'm the rich boy on the block and I'll take all of my toys and go home if you don't play by my rules back and forth. Act like what we the people elected you to be. Leaders, our voices, our very best hope for what will make and keep this country great and strong. Be the examples that we thought you were when we spent sleepless nights deciding who the best candidate would be. Please stop trying to jam programs down our throat that we don't want. Otherwise, things are going to come to a very unpleasant head for everyone. The American Public is fed up. Fed up with BS games, lies in the media, etc. If I can stretch my 800 dollar a month budget (after taxes, child support and such) and buy groceries (no food stamps), pay my lot rent, electric (with electric heat and air), cable, telephone (no cell, just land line), insurance and the various other things that come up (like a flat tire that had to be replaced) then our braintrust of a government SHOULD be able to produce a working budget and if not, then fire them ALL and find people to replace them that can. Our government is a joke that is totally out of touch with American reality.

    October 13, 2013 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  14. sweeper

    Does Congress care? They are not hungry or in need of help. They get full benefits. Both sides accuse the other of causing this. Most of them know their jobs are safe. Finally, they have done a great job of dividing the country. Obamacare aside, I have to blame Boehner for not negotiating in good faith. Every time the Democrats give a concession he ups the bet. Every time he gets involved the "talks hit a wall". The wall seems to be the Tea Party, a small minority who with their disproportionally loud (unreasonable) supporters ties to drown out reasonable compromise. Do we need to cut spending? Yes. But it is Congress that appropriates and spends the money, not the president. So let's all pick our favorite program, something we as individuals think is important to us and envision it cut by 50% to balance the budget. Also think of another credit downgrade that will cost billions more in interest payments and deliver nothing but profits for the banks.

    October 13, 2013 06:30 am at 6:30 am |
  15. Marian08

    What a disgrace for our brave men and women of the armed forces, as well as the rest of government workers and their families. I hope you disgusting teabaggers and your ilk are satisfied. Costing this country BILLIONS! Get our government open!

    October 13, 2013 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  16. Marian08

    Also, my father was a lifer in the Army, and I'm thankful he isn't alive to see what's become of this country he spent his life defending.

    October 13, 2013 06:35 am at 6:35 am |
  17. William

    The do not care about us. Use us up like a machine, and forger about us like a rusty tractor behind the house. I have
    been waiting for a disability decision for 38 months. What is the VA's isue. Do they still have little bald men with green hats, pencil, and paper processing claims. I was told that the VA is not completely computer automated. It is 2013. Shame on
    the government, all the government. And shame on the American people as well.

    October 13, 2013 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  18. westhillsgirl

    I guess we all will get a taste of how dysfunctional our government is. This has become a political bully fest. No one wants to give in no matter how many people get hurt. Very upsetting to see the chaos our government can cause. Maybe they are getting to big?

    October 13, 2013 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  19. Kimbro

    It means i be homeless with 3 granbabies nowhere to live I am veitnam vet with PTSD have nowhere to go no food

    October 13, 2013 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  20. James P. Barber

    God bless our soldiers. When you hear the republicans say the shut down is "no big deal", a "minor inconvenience", remember the men and women that have put their lives on the line to protect them. And for that, they are being thrown under the bus so the tea party can try and get Obama.

    October 13, 2013 06:42 am at 6:42 am |
  21. Gin Hearn

    Dear Congress. This turns my stomach. I don't care who you are. These men and women put there lives on the line for our country and they shouldn't be dealing with more stress wondering whether or not they will get the benefits they have earned and the health care they so desperately need.

    This has gone on long enough. You obviously don't care one bit about the people of the United States or our economy. You care only about your own political agendas. I don't care what party you are. It's House (and Senate) cleaning time. Republican or Democrat, your number is up. Next election, if your name says incumbent, I'm voting for your opponent. Enough said.

    October 13, 2013 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  22. Amy

    Good! This will bring the shutdown to an end quicker than any amount of "negotiation" could possibly achieve.

    October 13, 2013 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  23. DWS

    Mostly all Veterans will be in the same boat come NOV 1, what's so ironic is that military men and women are expected to serve with honor, integrity and to put service before self and we do it for a government that has no honor, integrity and never puts service before self! Sad very sad. It's time for a change ,VOTE ALL SITTING MEMBERS OF CONGRESS OUT IN 2014!

    October 13, 2013 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  24. Veteran

    I am glade that the government does not care for vets. It is already bad enough that va is slow and backed up but this is retarded how they only care about themselves. They say they donate their pay checks well who is going to pay my bill since I am a disabiled vet and this is my only income. Again I would like to thank the government for this stupid shut down

    October 13, 2013 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  25. Speak The Truth

    I can never understand why the Republicans, the supposed bigger fan of our men and women in uniform, have secretly continued to make military lives more stressful. Whether they are trying to take away benefits or failing to raise military pay, the reality is the GOP is no true supporter. Oh I'm sure some misguided reader of this post will point to some increases in military spending but this money went to their buddies, the military suppliers who make the weapons of war rather than to our family members and friends we send to fight them. People need to see the truth....the Republican Party is NOT pro military.

    October 13, 2013 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
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