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. PrettyFingFunny

    The Congress makes me sick.

    October 13, 2013 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  2. Lily

    Who would have ever thought that our veterans would have to stand up to our own government in a desperate bid to beg for what is rightfully theirs. Our government (this whole administration) should be filled with shame, and if both the republicans and democrats think they've "won" their little tug of war and bluff calling, they are sadly mistaken. I have a strong feeling that the American people are completely fed up and have total contempt for their making innocent Americans suffer their inability to fulfill their obligation to carry out the people's business.

    October 13, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  3. truthteller

    All the GOP has to do is pass a clean budget. They hate Veterans.

    October 13, 2013 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  4. Wow

    He goes broke. He goes broke.

    That's what is happening to real people just because some congress people felt like terrorizing the duly elected president.

    October 13, 2013 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  5. Roger

    Everyone wants to live off the government. Tell them to go get a job like the rest of us.

    October 13, 2013 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  6. blue max

    if the gop really cares about vets.... its time to prove it....

    October 13, 2013 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  7. Name jan53

    Simple Dem don't care who they hurt.

    October 13, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  8. Nameyuripelham

    I hope they will save us from terrorists in Congress

    October 13, 2013 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  9. Fred

    Washington needs to get back to doing their Job. If they don't, then they need to be FIRED! Actually, they all should be FIRED anyway...they don't really do anything anyway, except argue and stand in front of camera's & make dumb comments/speeches. A bunch of useless Politicrats.

    ~ Fred

    October 13, 2013 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  10. PJ

    While the GOP see their popularity sink lower and lower they are still totally insensitive to the poor folks affected by this shutdown. Get over it GOP – you lost this battle because of a handful of radicals – Cruz, Ruibio, Ryan et al

    October 13, 2013 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  11. Jon

    Why do politicians squabble over ~10 billion in sequester cuts in a ~16 trillion dollar GDP? It is immaterial. However for that immaterial amount they risk hundreds of billions in lost GDP from market disruptions, tens of thousands of people losing jobs, veterans not getting paid, etc.
    So they squabble over these immaterial things, even several weeks of more or less extension time or a percent or two of tax, and risk so much. They fight over immaterial things when the risk is so high. Split the difference and be done with it.

    October 13, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  12. eddhur

    i think the senate is the blame they would even look at anything but spend

    October 13, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  13. carol

    Open all the government. CDC treatment needed for dying children, death benefits, Veteran college benefits, preschool WIC for hungry kid. It goes on and on. I nothing else because it will effect you when the dollar goes down the toilet.

    October 13, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  14. Mike

    I hope they come loaded for bear . . . . or at least Cruz . . . .

    October 13, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  15. deltahotel

    Once again the democrats show their love for military personnel and veterans by defunding or refusing to approve funding for key programs. Check out how the Senate and White House chose to out source funding of death gratuity for KIA service personnel. I believe the words spoken by Harry Reid were "It's a moot point".

    October 13, 2013 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  16. Anonymous

    The following is the vet march position.

    This march is all about Obama closing the memorials. How can you block open space access to a monument? I guess if your goal was to make it seem like we would miss you.

    Here is the petition for the 1 million man march.

    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

    October 13, 2013 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  17. Ewing

    The Tea Party-controlled Republican Party is doing great damage to the American people and the stability of our Nation, in general. Quit playing dangerous games, Boehner/Cantor!

    A Vietnam Vet

    October 13, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  18. Louis

    If this doesn't end the shutdown then I'm sure there may be a hanging party coming after the Speaker of the House-JB.

    October 13, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  19. Matthew Sanchez

    America the greatest country in the world is being destroyed, by corruption of our "Elected" officials in Government and by greedy bankers.

    Since when was it ok to arm terrorist who killed 3000 Americans on 9/11?. Our Government is putting us in debt we cannot pay back while them and their family's live a wealthy life on our tax dollars.

    The United states Government is dividing the American people on purpose while we bicker and fight they are in slaving us in debt and taking our freedoms away with fear that they are trying to instill in people.

    American Corporations and company's are sending jobs overseas on slave labor while we support and are obsessed with their products like Apple.

    I wish America will wake up and stop arguing and fighting playing politics. Forget politics our country is in danger, we are in danger, our kids are in danger. Both parties are corrupt and wrong our Government needs to be wiped cleaned and have these people thrown in jail.

    Wake up America we are in danger, race doesn't matter, religion doesn't matter, political party doesn't matter, we need our voices heard! We are unstoppable we have the numbers Government is afraid of us finding out or knowing what we are capable of and how we can change things.


    October 13, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  20. mustangvoodoo1

    First of all, I am asking NOBODY to feel sorry for me. I am a 44 year old Disabled Army Veteran. I receive a lifetime disability pension and lifetime healthcare. I am also a full time student University student courtesy of VA Chapter 31 benefits. Both my disability pension and my Chapter 31 stipend will cease on 01 November 2013 if our government cannot get their act together by 15 October 2013.
    I am a grown man and reasonable able bodied. Nevertheless, I want the world to know that on 28 September 2013, our nation lost one of it's veterans, Harold D. Robinson.....My FATHER!!
    His Funeral was held on 06 October 2013. The thing is, there was no flag for my father, there was no Honor Guard. I want to ask ANY Republican, ANY Democrat, can ANYONE tell me WHY one of our nation's finest was NOT able to have a flag at his service, why there was NOBODY to play TAPS?

    October 13, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  21. Don

    I am now in my 60's and totally dependent on My VA disability payments and Social Security. I am 100% disabled and if they do not get this mess figured out, my wife and I will be broke. I mean totally broke. We will miss our mortgage payment and possibly loose our home. Is this what we get after serving our country? But why should I be surprised. When WWI veterans tried to get their benefits General Pershing took his cavalry ran down and beat to death many protesting solders.

    October 13, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  22. rplat

    I've got a better idea . . . stop the pay and perks for all those "do nothing" politicians then let's see if they can get anything done. This is insane, 500+ jerks including Obama were elected to serve the "people" but all they do is punish the people. It's time for a really big change in this poor sick Republic. Enough!

    October 13, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  23. Bert974

    It seems possible that the Republicans should have planned ahead for this. They are the party that usually supports the military and the police the most.

    October 13, 2013 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  24. hkirwin

    We really need a leader. I hope someone steps up.

    October 13, 2013 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  25. hkirwin

    A teenager from another country scolded Obama. Why doesn't our own youth get it.

    October 13, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
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