The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

October 9, 2013

VA chief: Shutdown could hit millions of vets

he short-term consequences have meant that disability claims production has slowed by an average of about 1,400 per day since the shutdown began Oct. 1

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"Veterans, of course, are affected like other Americans by the government shutdown — more than 600,000 veterans are employed by the federal government, many others work for impacted federal contractors, or work for other businesses that are suffering from the shutdown," Shinseki says.

Veterans groups have largely avoided taking sides in the battle, supporting both the Republican-controlled House's efforts to pass legislation extending funding specifically for certain VA benefits as well as the Democratic-led effort to fund the entire federal government.

Some groups have expressed frustration with what they described as incomplete or inconsistent statements from the VA about the impact.

"These inconsistencies have left veterans confused, concerned and dismayed," says the written testimony from Alex Nicholson, the legislative director for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

Nicholson says his organization has been fielding countless calls and messages from veterans worried about the shutdown's impact.

Shinseki says the VA planned for an orderly shutdown but has confronted "unprecedented legal and programmatic questions" and would do its best to keep lawmakers informed.

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