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. George steht

    I like other veterans are stuck in limbo. Obama and Capitol Hill purposely holds the people and veterans at bay while they squabble worse than little kids. It was already predicted if Obama got re-elected, due to his programs that by time he would be out in 2016 the National Debt would be nearly $22.6 Trillion Dollars anyway, now we are at nearly 17, so what the hell, pass the damn budget, he has already sunk this Nation beyond recovery. Pass the budget, it's never going to go down for the damage that has been done by this administration unless this country can declare bankruptcy, But China won't allow that, they own the White House, they will repossess it.
    To the Politicians, to them the veterans have always been easy targets, not any more, We're, TIRED, we're POOR, we're BROKE while you get RICHER. time for our "Washington Bastille Day".

    October 13, 2013 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  2. Louis

    The Veterans are only part of the piece meal offering by the GOP. Millions of non-veterans are also affected and will follow suit on more marches. They are in the same situation of needing money and services to survive. Either we do the shutdown for every body in need or there will be chaos.

    October 13, 2013 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  3. Denny

    As a Vet. with disabilities and getting VA assistance. It is time to vote all these childish do nothing well to do outta contact lawyer types. OUT of office. Impeach Odumba too. He has got to be THE WORST President ever !

    October 13, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  4. barbara butler

    l bet the House and Senate are getting pay checks. Thank us for OUR service.....PAY US. More backlog on benefits? all that was needed was another excuse.

    Veteran USAF and Gulf War.
    Wish l ciuld get to Washington DC on Tuesday!!!!!!

    October 13, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  5. TBONE

    I say as an Independent Moderate, nothing to do with the tea party and served my country in the early 1990s, this is welcomed news. I think its a complete disgrace on both partie's parts. Lets start with the 2014 election and clean house. GOP might as well kiss the majority goodbye. For 2016 I won't be voting Republican or Democrat. If Hillary Clinton runs, you can forget about me voting for her. We need someone completely new and unknown. I definitely do not want another Bush in the White House either. Biden, too old for the White House. No tea party candidates as its been proven the majority of that party has been backed by billionaire donors like the koch brothers and run by Millionares. I say every election 2014 going forward, clean house, senate, white house, and state governorships down to state municipalities, even its a few elections at a time. So tired of the two party system. Corrupt to the core. Apparently the two party system failed History while in school. Were unfortunately going to repeat what happened in France and Russia if we do not get our acts together and clean government. Time for a house cleaning because America's house is dirty with trash. Time to call in the exterminator to weed out the rats.

    October 13, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  6. Louis

    The Veterans are only part of the piece meal offering by the GOP. Millions of non-veterans are also affected and will follow suit on more marches. They are in the same situation of needing money and services to survive. Either we do no shutdown for every body in need or there will be chaos.

    October 13, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  7. chris

    I hope they show up fully armed and ready to throw down this cartoonish goverment.

    October 13, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  8. Hey_McFly

    My New Republic epiphany: As a veteran, my heart goes out to these men and women. Nothing more noble than standing up and making a protest for what you believe and to pressure those in power to give to you for your hard work and sacrifice. After reading an article in the New Republic over this weekend, the lightening struck and I at last found the true motivation behind the Tea Party movement and their most recent move to shutdown so much of the government. This is not about veterans, or social security, or medicare, or Head start programs for education. The polls show most of the voters who side with the Tea Party support these programs and don't want to see them disappear. This is about race. Although the Tea Party supports many of the social welfare programs, it is their opinion to much of the money is going to blacks and other minorities. This is why the Affordable Care Act is such a point of contention. Since the ACA recognizes no racial demographic the system is in place to support anyone who requires medical insurance coverage. This is an outrage to the Tea Party, because in their minds, universal health care should cover the whites first and the minorities second. But as the Constitution prohibits such discrimination, the programs covers everyone; and to the Tea Party that is an abomination. I used to wonder why everyone standing around Boehner and Cantor in the photos during this shutdown was white. Thanks to the New Republic, now I know.

    October 13, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  9. Ron

    "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."

    EXACTLY!!!! The democraticallyl controlled Senate continues to hold the veterens and socially security hostage while they wage a war on funding a grossly unpopular and expensive healthcare act. The Veterens and social security recipients are NOT entitlement recipients!! They met a contractual agreement and were federally contracted to recieve the benefits. The current and past administrations continued to pilfer the coffers and now wish to use the pension and SSN money as a bargaining tool. There is not much continuing conversation going on about blocking of our memorials and the stopping of burial benefits for our military wouldn't. I guess it doesn't make good press your the administration's side.

    What a waste our representatives are! When one area of the government makes a move to try to constrain the budget that is unsustainable, they are met with distain from their counterparts across the aisle while the unproductive parts of our citizenry cry for further assistance.

    And your article makes it appear that the showdown in Washington only hampers our government. I think it was a long time coming and a necessary part of our representative government.

    Let's see who "bellys up" first.

    October 13, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  10. jzaks

    Washington is so dysfunctional it is pathetic. Our representatives act like a bunch of school yard bullies. Hopefully people will vote the jerks out of office next time around. Our elected officials love to use the term, "The American People Think", which is nothing but a self serving bunch of nonsense. They care nothing about the American people, only about their own self serving interest.

    October 13, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  11. Casual_Observer

    It is deplorable the message that our so called commander in chief is sending to the soldiers. The house has passed funding to veterans benefits but Obama still wants to hold them as pawns for his manufactured crisis. Disgraceful.

    October 13, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  12. Common sense grandma

    The GOP has lost the minority vote, the women's vote and the youth vote. They could soon lose the military and veteran vote. I hope the Tea Party vote is worth the sacrifice of the rest of Americans.

    October 13, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  13. Spec4

    The House and Senate need to get their acts together, open government and pass the Debt Ceiling. Stop using Veterans as pawns. These are real people that served when called and need the finanicial support promise by the US Governmet.

    When the veterans where called to do their duty they didn't say, I need my parents, spouse or children to come to an agreement whether it is a good idea for me to risk my health or life.

    The service veterans receive at the VA is deplorable and questionable. Taxpayers expect their monies and the government to provide adequate services to Veterans not just give them pills.

    Pay the veterans and stop using the shutdown as an excuse. President Obama treats veterans like none essential government employees.

    He and the other politicians don't understand the value of service. Like the elected official stated if the government no longer wants to care and provide for veterans. Stop making us and sending us to unappreciative countries that do not like us nor want our involvement in their internal manners.

    It is easy for the country to send US personnel to die and get maimed but hard to provide services like lifetime healthcare when we return.

    October 13, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  14. TGL in Canada

    Another warm crime charge for Dick & George !! Within 10 years of Iraq invasion, and sacrifices made by patriotic americans, another result is in !! Government fails it's veterans. !! I hope that this is the loudest protest ever heard in Washington. Republicans should be ashamed of themselves.

    October 13, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |

    IONE DOVALE,, I Almost Lost My Son To PTSD Last Year He Is Just Now Starting To Do Alittle Better,Please Let My Son Live.. This Could Set Him Back Into Stress

    October 13, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  16. Noelle thonnard

    Why aren't more people talking about how this shutdown will financially devastate disabled veterans and their families?? It's despicable that the government is turning a blind eye to our veterans and their sacred duty to them.

    October 13, 2013 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  17. thatsjackedup

    It is unbelevable to sit and watch this SUICIDE continue. Both parties are destroying this country and I'm almost convinced that this entire mess has not been contrived by BOTH parties behind closed doors and in joint agreement.
    It is almost a "good cop, bad cop" episode. The fact that this will financially devastate Veterans and the communities they live in is shocking. My husband and I live off his military retirement and our social security. This will wipe out our savings that we had just built back up from the recession. Then again...maybe that IS the whole idea.

    October 13, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  18. M

    Let Congress fight their own damn wars from now on. Let this also be a lesson to potential future military enlisters; you're country, specifically those in congress, are more concerned about their own personal, professional and political wellfare than they are of yours. They will throw you under the bus in a heartbeat, over the will of their political puppet masters and their tea bagging colleagues.

    October 13, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  19. Bob

    Why are they protesting at the WW2 memorial? They should be protesting outside the Koch Brothers' mansions.

    October 13, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  20. Lisa

    Right, but Immigration Reform is so much more important. Why are Immigrants MORE IMPORTANT than OUR VETERANS?

    October 13, 2013 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  21. Anonymous

    It is today not Tuesday it is today.

    October 13, 2013 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  22. jimatmad

    The GOP keeps saying they want to negotiate. What are they willing to give up? Defense cuts? Single Payer? Gun control? Rescinding the Sequester?
    If they aren't willing to give up something, it's not a negotiation. Opening the government and paying our bills aren't bargaining chips, THAT'S THEIR JOB.

    October 13, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  23. Philip

    Let us face the facts here, fellow veterans, Obama doesn't care. Hagel doesn't care, Democrats and RINO's don't care.

    October 13, 2013 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  24. Crystal

    I think you should get your facts straight. It is not on Tuesday. It is today! 13 Oct!

    October 13, 2013 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  25. Manuel J.

    Had Obama shown leadership, the two sides would have been talking AND resolved this issue long ago. INSTEAD, the "Divider in Chief" has added to the problem with his partisan rancor!!

    October 13, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
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