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. FAP

    Why is the House leadership not allowing for an up or down vote on passing the CR resolution to open the government? Yesterday every democratic representative requested verbally for such a vote.

    October 13, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  2. johnharry

    yet we will continue to vote these clowns back in office

    October 13, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  3. DA

    The GOP is pulling this one too, you can't blame the president for the job the House of Representatives is supposed to do. The HORs got sent home by Boehner as another power play of his to create this mess and blame Obama for it!

    October 13, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  4. Kenneth e, horton

    If both parties cant get ther act toghter they all schould be replaced by people who care about the poeple. WE our very pissed and upset.over this . They cant get there heads out of each other ass and get it done.. Because ILL go broke and lose my HOUSE OR MY CAR. iAM 68 YEARS OLD AND NEVER SEEN A MORE CORPUTE goverment. I feel like the people are getting dicked around. GET IT DONE NOW

    October 13, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  5. Feel The Heat

    The Tea Party doesn't give a flying screw about you or anybody.
    Vote these traitors out of office.

    October 13, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  6. craig wilson

    Let the government stay shut down. im a veteran and have never ever recieved my full va benefits. let the congressman and their family go fight the wars only to come back and see how much of a fool you have been for the usa. oh yeah veterans. the american government hates you and the american gov will do anything to rob you and cheat you out of recieving your benefits. your children will get nothing. your grandchildren will be fighting like our backstabbing congress.

    October 13, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  7. TC

    Sadly, we are the 47% that the Tea Party and GOP says doesn't matter to them!! After my 27 years of government and military service, I'd remind them that without this 47% per-center and many others, they would not be enjoying the freedom to vote down every entitlement deserved by the rest of us...

    October 13, 2013 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  8. Manuel J.

    @ TGL. Had Clinton NOT gutted the military and its intelligence capabilities, there might not have been a 9-11. In other words, both sides are to blame so quit trying to pawn it off on an entire political party. After all, there were plenty of Dem's who also saw the supposed WMD intelligence and voted for the invasion!!

    October 13, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  9. Blaine

    Open the government!

    October 13, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  10. raul c.

    Veterans I'm with you. Get your frustrations out to those stupid Tea Party members since they don't care about you, the poor, the middle class and government workers since they only care of themselves.

    October 13, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  11. Anthony Talbert

    Well, since CNN apparently didn't like my attempted post criticizing the accuracy of their "reporting", I'll try again.

    Look at the marchers website ( for their REAL opinion on what is going on in DC

    October 13, 2013 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  12. patw2100

    So in short veterans deserve free iPhones also. Everyone is a liberal when it concerns their handout.

    October 13, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  13. anyanonymous

    We were amazed to receive mail from the VA on my husband's claim recently, dated after the shutdown. But it had been backlogged for over a year. Unfortunately, 2 of the 3 claims were denied and he needs to appeal. So who knows when he will get answers. He's had ptsd for 9 years as of this week (the first event occured this week 9 years ago) and that was one of the ones they denied?

    October 13, 2013 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  14. Mario

    This is truly sad... Our government can send aid to everyone in the world. But no respect for the people that fought for the country and protected it. Homeless veterans every where. Extremely shameful but Government can give Food stamps and aid to illegal immigrants.

    October 13, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  15. get2thepoint

    Love how they failed to mention a key point as to why they decided to rally. An exception was made for a pro immigration rally. Never let a chance pass you up when it involves getting more votes in the future. Let's simply overlook what actually got us where we are.

    October 13, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  16. ib4ucy

    A U.S. Veteran is someone who was, at one point in his or her life, BRAVE enough to raise their right hand while writing out a blank check with their left hand made payable to the 'United States of America', in the amount of “up to and including their life".
    MAY GOD BLESS EACH & EVERY ONE OF THEM because since the beginning of recorded time, this planet Earth has only seen 50 days of TOTAL PEACE amongst all of its Nations at any given time!
    Every Nation needs their own individual Armies or you and your people will not be around for very long on this Big Blue Marble we all call HOME!
    So I ask you, why is OBAMA obviously cutting back on U.S. National Defense?

    October 13, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  17. Anthony Talbert

    Hmmm.. "Comment awaiting moderation"? When the comment is civil but critical of CNN and suggests people look at the marcher's website for accurate information?

    October 13, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  18. Morerightwingblather

    Only Obama and the Democrats are willing to reopen government 100% with no strings attached. No concessions. No demands. No poison pills. Just a clean CR that reopens every part of government. The Republicans aren't willing to do it, which obviously means that they're the ones who want to use the pain of the shutdown as leverage for political purposes.

    October 13, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  19. Hawk in Texas

    I am a 75 year old disabled veteran, i live from month to month. if my check does not come i will not be able to pay not one bill. i could lose everything. and the people posting on here blaming the president, you are wrong. the blame is squarely on the republicans shoulders. their hatred for Obama has driven them insane. the way to remedy this is to vote a solid democrat ticket. we must teach the republicans a lesson. they are strictly for the super rich.

    October 13, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  20. Chedar

    To all citizen of this nation, we should join these Veterand and service members to tell these bastards to end their feud. For the best interest of our nation, I am all for the president to invoke the power of the 14th amendment and end this garbage don't by the GOP.

    October 13, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  21. Victor Fries

    @TGL in Canada
    I'm going to be polite, but you do understand that your comment makes no sense, right? How can you blame a President and Vice-President that have been out if office for about five years for the problems of today? Democrats are equally responsible for this mess as Republicans. I am a veteran receiving the GI Bill. My sole means of income will be cut off come the end of this month. I don't blame Bush, I blame Obama. There is no leadership in the White House; Obama would rather campaign and surround himself with people that adore him then sit in D.C. and work out or problems.

    P.S. Obama sent the largest contingency of military units to Afghanistan. I was part of Obama's push, and I spent seven months in that waste of a country. I mentioned this to give you some perspective on the great leader, Obama.

    October 13, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  22. Kenman

    Did you get that, Harry Reid won't allow a vote on the House bill to make all these payments to our vets, BECAUSE THEY DON'T WON'T TO LOSE THE POLITICAL ISSUE!

    I don't care if you don't understand that there is an effort to stop our government from completely bankrupting our nation or not, the Democrats and Obama could have issues like this resolved immediately if they didn't care more about the political gain they think they'll get, with the liberal media's propaganda help!

    October 13, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  23. colleen starkey

    I am tired of washington not doing their jobs. The congress need to reopen the government if washington can't do their jobs they all need to get. Fired the president is a bad president. They need to work together both parties need agree. And we need to get rid of the tea party I think one day china is going to be incharge of america. And our country is going to lose respcet. I don't think it is right for the president and the congress get paid. While the government is shut down washington is going to deny children no food I don't think it is right for the congress be on vacation they need to be in washington working on problem

    October 13, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  24. conoclast

    What is the plight of a few veterans when compared to the right-wing's ideological jihad? They'll just have to suffer once more for their country while the psychotics in the House tea-bag caucus force a constitutional crisis. It all will end badly for the nation of course-but isn't that what the throwbacks have in mind? Time to call this sedition what it is-and invoke the 14th amendment!

    October 13, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  25. johnk

    Okay lets offer a solution to this situation. Here it is. Pass a debt increase for the 80th time BUT with these stipulations. All of Congress and all Federal employees will terminate their own health care and separate retirement funds and programs. They will all join us on Medicare and Social Security. Two all of Congress will be cut a 50% pay reduction in their salaries including the President and Vice President. Three, term limits will be for 12 years and will be unable to be re-elected to any other post. Finally a working budget will be put in place by no later than 6/1/2014 and the numbers will be known, Cash flow, revenue vs expenses.

    October 13, 2013 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
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