Local veteran reacts to possible VA benefit cuts due to shutdown
POSTED: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 11:16pm
UPDATED: Thursday, October 10, 2013 - 5:16pm
"It is demoralizing, it is disgraceful," he says.
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — Military veterans and their families in El Paso are among the millions who may not get their benefit checks in the mail next month if the government shutdown continues through the end of October.
"It is demoralizing, it is disgraceful. The persons responsible for this will pay at the next election," said retired Colonel Dusty Rhodes, "I live on my checks. I am retired, I am 82 years old, I am disabled, I depend on the government check that I've earned."
Thousands of Veterans Affairs employees, who process benefit claims and checks, were furloughed on Tuesday - many are veterans themselves.
"The House of Representatives ought to be having a vote on a simple, straightforward funding resolution that enables all of our veterans to be paid what they are owed, for their claims to be processed in a timely way," said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D) from Connecticut.
If the shutdown drags on, those benefit checks won't be processed in a timely way.
More than 5 million people won't receive a check from the VA on November 1st, which includes disability checks, pension payments, education benefits, and living stipends under GI bill programs.
"And so if they are furloughed and they are also recipients of disability checks their resources go to zero and then I have the responsibility of trying to keep them from becoming homeless," said Eric Shinseki, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
"That's why I support a clean funding bill no strings attached lets fund the federal government, perhaps on a short term basis where we can work out a larger deal. That to me is the quickest, cleanest way to help everyone involved, especially our veterans," said U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D) from Texas.
The coming days are critical for lawmakers in Washington but veterans are demanding results now.
"Do the job you were sent to Washington to do," said Rhodes.
The government shutdown has not affected the VA's health care system.
They still have funding available through 2014 to keep their medical centers open to veterans.