Shutdown: Troops OK; Veterans Maybe Not

NGAUS Washington Report

(Oct. 1, 2013) Service members will not miss a paycheck during the shutdown of the federal government that began at midnight Monday when Congress failed to come up with a budget or a continuing resolution to continue funding government services and programs.

But veterans who receive benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs may not receive those checks if the shutdown drags on.

President Barack Obama said in a video message to troops today that Congress had passed and he would sign legislation to ensure they were paid on time.

“We’ll continue to work to address any impact this shutdown has on you and your families,” Obama said.

But the shutdown will have little impact on military members in any way. Military operations and trailing exercises will continue.

Defense Department civilians are not so lucky. The Pentagon expects to furlough about half of its 800,000 civilian workers.

Meanwhile, the VA has assured veterans that medical services will not be impacted by the shutdown. And no new claims will be processed during the shutdown.

However there is confusion about whether the agency will be able to continue to fund disability claims. Publicly, it has said that the impact will be slight, but The Washington Post
reported Friday that VA officials told congressional leaders that a shutdown of two or three weeks would hamper the agency’s ability to make those payments.

Spokesmen for veterans groups are alarmed at the prospect of disabled veterans not receiving their benefit checks in November. And the VA has admitted that it soon could run out of money to make those payments, the newspaper reported today.

“Those benefits are provided through appropriated mandatory funding, and that funding will run out by late October,” the VA said in a statement to The Post. “At that point, VA will be unable to make any payments.”