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. Frank

    The first protest by veterans against their own president and government in the history of this nation.

    October 13, 2013 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  2. Dave - Phx

    Old white american's make up the tea party. Quit voting against your own interests.

    October 13, 2013 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  3. judith priester

    It is a shame that the ones who fought for this country is now being condemned to poverty by it. I am a veteran and I tell those who will march on Washington that it may take a veteran to finally end all this stupidity going on in the government. We are now the laughingstock of the free world and no veteran should have to live in the United States of Laughingstock.

    October 13, 2013 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  4. Marian08

    I'd like to know why my comments weren't posted when there hasn't been a single post?

    October 13, 2013 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  5. Treynor

    We fully support these veterans groups and think it would be wonderful if as many of our fellow citizens as possible would join them. It is important that we all come together to show our support and appreciation for what they have done for us.

    At the same we need to demonstrate that the divisive policies of all factions are not and will not work to divide this great country and it's people any longer.

    October 13, 2013 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  6. fr114

    boring vets

    October 13, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  7. NameGoose

    Obama and his administration need to go. The veterans of this country need to be taken care of first before any other group in this country. Veterans are the only group in this country that have honestly earned and paid their dues for this country. If no checks go out for veterans on Nov. 1rst than why in the hell should politicians and people on social security get their checks? I am sick and tired of Obama screwing the military. Why would he care, his ass never served and he never spent one day serving for are country. I know one thing for sure when elections come again no way in hell do I ever want to see another friggin democrat in office.

    October 13, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  8. Jack

    Let's not stop there! All Americans need to "stand with our Vets" and support them in their march! Let's use this social media to generate support and get a "million" or more Americans to join the march.

    October 13, 2013 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  9. Name

    Arrest these politicians for treason

    October 13, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  10. resonance

    We have such an honorable government. Pay social security and serve your country in good faith that they will keep their end of the deal, and then get betrayed for electing them. This shows that the DC clowns have become disconnected from Americans. Term limits would go a long way to repair this dysfunction. The reneging on promises must stop.

    October 13, 2013 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  11. Pete/Ark

    Congress is a "Dead Beat Dad" ... sent the troops off to get injured and now won't pay the support ... maybe someone could get a court order to garnish their wages and tax refunds.

    October 13, 2013 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  12. OrganicManLives_N_anOraganicUNiverSE

    Its amazing to me Democracy stands, but the proof of fairness to "the few" is overwhelming, even when a good spanking should be administered instead. Its so sad that people like Cruz and his tea party are so blind to the needs of "the many".

    October 13, 2013 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  13. Randall

    How many of you conservatives and tea party members consider our veterans to be freeloaders expecting a handout?

    Isn't that the standard judgement, that when someone expects a payment from the government that they've earned thru paying taxes or providing a service, they are nothing but moochers seeking "entitlement"?

    God forbid, YOU might one day be in the same boat.

    October 13, 2013 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  14. Amy in Cambridge

    Why are they protesting in DC? They should be protesting in front of Ron Paul's house, chambers and face as well as all the jokers who constantly say "they're all corrupt. That's why I voted for Ron Paul". Ron Paul is the one (on camera) who laughed and said "Americans need to learn that a shut down of the Federal Government is not a big deal".

    October 13, 2013 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  15. byron king

    I'm a veteran on full-disability with a service related brain tumor. I have had two brain surgeries, taking out two inches of brain, one and a half years of chemo and radiation treatment to half of my brain. I recently had to quit my job due to lack of memory, mood issues, major depression, anxiety and seizure disorder. My VA disability payment is all the income I have to take care of my family. It took me eight years to fight the claim and to receive the benefits. Now I survived the brain cancer to this point, only to have it taken away from us when I have lost my memory and am unemployed. Please fix this asap. My story is one in five million. Please share your stories and let folks know what the VA means to us who have served honorable. Sidenote: I signed up two months after 9/11.

    October 13, 2013 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  16. Mrcorrect

    Exactly what benefits are the protesting to get? All the veterans I know are continuing to get all their benefits. NO benefits have stopped due to the partial shutdown. All are being paid except the death benefits that the President and Harry Reid have coldly stopped to make a political point.

    October 13, 2013 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  17. Jessica McGwin

    I'll contact the WM Association. At least one of US will be there. Please let Congress, Senate, and the House know I will be unarmed, with no illegal anything on my person or in my car. So no need to fire.

    October 13, 2013 08:01 am at 8:01 am |
  18. Dose

    Go protest on the President's lawn

    October 13, 2013 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  19. jtj33

    Why no Obamacare outrage over premiums? The Communist News Network (deep voice) 'this is CNN". Will never change. What Republicans want is for Obama (who changes laws illegally) to be as fair to the people as he is to his 1%er buddies. No where in the law does it say Obama can grant waivers and exemptions yet he does for his 1%er friends. Be fair to all and the government is back in business. Keep breaking the law by changing any law he wants to and chaos is what you get. Obama is out to, and is, destroying America from the inside.

    October 13, 2013 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  20. judith

    As a Disabled Veteran, who NEEDS this money to survive SHAME on this bunch of idiots that are blocking any and all progress. The Speaker of the House is more worried about his speakership than the people and is being held hostage by a bunch of Tea Party fools led by Cruz the untilmate Washing area for more years than he lived in Texas. He tries to come across as a people person, he's just a hack bent on destroying this country and he cares not who he hurts because he gets his money.

    October 13, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  21. Harsh Realities

    Obama is threatening to cut off benefits from those who earned them while still paying out welfare, food stamps, housing assistance, free medical and obamaphones to those who think that they deserve all the free bennies paid for by hard working US taxpayers. The democrats have always rewarded the lazy while punishing the productive.

    October 13, 2013 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  22. Eric Darling

    I wonder how many veterans place the blame for this government shutdown on the Republicans who caused it? I wonder how many of them plan on contacting their intransigent and obstructionist Conservative Congressman who stand behind the destruction of our government and a debt default?

    October 13, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  23. William Sciacca

    It is going to be held today 13 October 2013 at 9 am ET. Double check your facts!

    October 13, 2013 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  24. tipsana

    GO get em!

    October 13, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  25. Sam

    217+ Votes are ready to go today. Shameless to not call a vote.

    October 13, 2013 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
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