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. Jetranger

    For those who are just NOW waking up to the Corruption and Tyranny that being going on in Government the 25 to 30 years with every administration, this is all part of the Grand plan to turn the Country into a 3rd World Country, take everybodys money, TAX them even more, Force them to Buy all kinds of Government services, at Ridlicious prices ( Obamacare), and ship more Jobs out of country and keep everybody broke ! its been the plan for the last 25 years, just now, their in a bit of a hurry to do it ! and if they don't go thru with it this time, they'll try again next Year !!!

    October 13, 2013 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  2. remember it is the grand ole partys teapea members who began this.

    The tea party and cruz need to be held and tired as traitors to the USA. Noting less.

    October 13, 2013 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  3. Thad M

    It's always struck me as being strange that veterans who "earned" their benefits are in danger of those benefits being cutoff during this shutdown but the "unearned" entitlement benefits for those on welfare don't miss a beat. Man, what a country we live in!

    October 13, 2013 06:58 am at 6:58 am |
  4. Richard Ray

    Maybe we disabled veterans should just package up our bills and send them to our senators and congressmen. We did our part and were promised health care and financial benefits should we be injured in the line of duty. This is just another broken promise by the United States government to its veterans. Face it, fellow brothers and sisters who wore the uniform, Uncle Sam could give a rat's hind end about you. When you default on your VA home loan, the VA will come after you like a rabid dog. The government never loses money, but they will get their pound of flesh, even though they owe you. Their wish is for all the disabled veterans to just die off and go away. This goes from the president on down, including Congressmen and senators from both parties. THEY still get paid. YOU should have died on the battlefield and not been a bother to them.

    October 13, 2013 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  5. Jeff

    So shameful that politicians draw an income at our expense, despite shutting down our, OUR, government, yet those who have served this country proudly are discarded like yesterday's news. It makes me sick to be an American.

    October 13, 2013 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  6. Mike

    Go ahead, screw over the vets. Then when the soldiers in the active army rebel because they realize that's in store for them you can refer to the phrase, "blowback".

    October 13, 2013 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  7. tommy

    This all falls squarely on Obama's shoulders. He decides what gets shut down and what doesn't. The dislike for Obama among Veterans is growing rapidly, and Obama obviously could care less.

    October 13, 2013 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  8. Mark

    Boy what a find fix you got us into there Uncle Sammy!

    October 13, 2013 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  9. captcaps

    Boehner is a Republican Pig he and cruz and the rest of the Teapublicans must be voted out of office we need to vote for democrats and replace the Garbage the republican left behind in our government

    October 13, 2013 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  10. Jerry

    Veterans and América need to thank Obama's clueless/vindictive administration for HIS lack of leadership and intransigency.

    Mr. President, no more moronic/hypocritical/weak excuses!!! Senile Reid and Bobble Head Pelosi are not the president/vice president.

    YOU ARE!!!

    October 13, 2013 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  11. eleanor

    Why is it that the needs of those who sacrificed so much for their country can be dismissed as colateral damage by those in Congress who created this horror show in order to have a hissy fit at the country's expense?. I would bet that many of them have never been in a military engagement. It is time to pass the political peace pipe!.

    October 13, 2013 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  12. Joyce

    Don't pay Congress and I bet this would be over with in 2 days. I say if everyone is not to get paid then Congress and all state people higher up there do not get paid either.

    October 13, 2013 07:18 am at 7:18 am |
  13. Gary Paxson

    As a loyal republican for the largest part of my life, I would be rather embarassed to let anyone know that. It is even more of a slap in the face to have served my country in Vietnam only to see a bunch of highly paid children act as they are. They have nothng to fear with with guaranteed benifits. All might be different if the Republican party would offer a better plan for health care or funding than is in place, but so far all I hear is threats and talk.

    October 13, 2013 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  14. Jon

    Veterans won't be paid, but this do-nothing bunch of political cry babies we call congress is still getting paid. To hell with marching at the WWII memorial, I say march on the captial building and start hanging congress people by the heels from lampposts until they get the message and start doing what we elected them for and what they are continuing to draw a check for. If they pulled this kind of stunt out in the business world, they would have been fired months ago. I for one am beyond sick and tired of this political BS. I'm a firm believer in the preamble to the Declaration of Indpendence that says if the goverment wont do the job of protecting our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, then the people have the RIGHT to institute a new government that will. We seem to be at that juncture.

    October 13, 2013 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  15. John Jacobson

    Will Veterans be happy that angry T party republicans are using them as pawns in pursuit of there political goal of defeating Obama Care?
    It seems angry Republicans see fit to destroy America in pursuit of there political goals.

    And vets that may have to go without a check are "collateral damage".

    October 13, 2013 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  16. Nick

    Going by historical precedent, General Odierno is going to have the army beat up the veterans

    October 13, 2013 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  17. Gerry Ellenson

    The Tea Party is NOT a patriotic entity. I did spend 13 months in Viet Nam but claimed no benefits (I could, related to Agent Orange) so I have no direct self interest. I am, however, outraged at how the so-called patriots are treating vets. Shame on them.

    October 13, 2013 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  18. G_Edwards

    That's what Pres Obama and Leader Reid want – make this look and be as painful as possible. After all, it was Leader Reid who told the DC Mayor he was going to screw up their plan by complaining about how the Rebs want to fund DC, but the Dems refuse.


    October 13, 2013 07:28 am at 7:28 am |
  19. captcaps

    Served my country in Antarctica and the Middle East back in the late sixtys and early seventys lost many good friends along the way....I love this country and am proud to have served..... But this crap the Republican Insurection is pulling has gone too Far we need to vote every obstructionist Republican Out of office in this next election...and take back humane and fair control of our country......The Teapublican Party must be destroyed in order to regain control of our destiny..... and this is from a FORMER Republican.....Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    October 13, 2013 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  20. Billy Bertuloski

    The Tea Baggers don't care about vets – they care about themselves. Good luck honored veterans with hoping the Tea Baggers and their anti-American lunacy can be fought.

    October 13, 2013 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  21. snotfair

    Good 4 you Vets- I salute you!

    October 13, 2013 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  22. Ron S.

    My only source of income is my disability from the VA & SSD. I am disgusted with our governments inability to work out the budget without hurting the people they represent. I and I'm sure many other Americans are fed up with the practices of our government, putting themselves above everyone else. It's time that all members of Congress, the House and the Senate be afforded the same retirement, medical and loss of income as the rest of the Americans they represent. Only then can the government truly represent All Americans.

    October 13, 2013 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  23. Bryan

    What kind of adminsstration holds veterans hostage to put pressure on their political enemies? They could have funded the vets , kids with cancer and parks 2 weeks ago. Both sides agreed to the funding limits on these things . It would have been and still is in the best interest of the nation to fund these agencies. Too bad for us that the president thinks it's to his political advantage to keep them shut and point fingers at his oppressors

    They dident even want to pay the families of fallen soldiers until they were forced to.

    October 13, 2013 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  24. Frank

    The first protest by veterans against their own president and government in the history of this nation. Thanks to that America Hater in the White House.

    Lets see if this comment makes it to the public. The lefties will delete it and prove their fascism.

    October 13, 2013 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  25. Bellamay

    I think that is great. When I start hearing them blame Obama I know who set up the protest. I wonder if they know that the GOP voted to cut their funding. Probably not. The GOP has a very good spinning machine. I seen them use the troops for their own benefit for Iraq, they were recently on Fox with the Obama haters. It is sad because they have no idea who is really on their side. I hope millions show up. I work with veterans and they are the best.

    October 13, 2013 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
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