VA Benefits Face Furlough – Veterans to Protest
The US Department of Veterans Affairs has published a ‘field guide’ to help steer veterans to information on what services are (and are not) affected by the shutdown. Included in this guide is an overview of such services, contact information and a link to the VA’s Contingency Plan that lays out the operations under an ‘absence of appropriations.’
According to the guide updated October 7:
Claims processing and payments in the compensation, pension, education, and vocational rehabilitation programs are anticipated to continue through late October. However, in the event of a prolonged shutdown, claims processing and payments in these programs would be suspended when available funding is exhausted.
The lapse in these essential benefits may stem from a lack of workers to process the paperwork (not necessarily a lack appropriations for said benefits). New Jersey Online explains:
VA health care is funded under an advanced appropriations process, which is protecting all VA medical facilities as well as 90 percent of the VA budget and staff. Unprotected from the shutdown, however, is the Veterans Benefits Administration, which has furloughed 7,800 employees.
Regardless of the muddy waters, the House of Representatives has passed resolutions to fund individual parts of the federal government to avoid the failure of essential federal services (like those provided by the VA) – but the Senate isn’t cooperating.
The Hill has reported that Republicans are making robocalls to veterans about the denial of benefits under shutdown, contributing the draconian measures to Senate Democrats – including Senators Mark Begich (D-AK), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Harry Reid (D-NV):
“They are playing politics by cutting off our veterans and their benefits. In a bi-partisan vote the House of Representatives wanted to make sure our veterans got the benefits they earned for fighting for our freedoms. But, SENATOR (XXX) won’t negotiate,” the robocall script reads.
Protests about this latest political gyration are beginning to spring up. The Military Coalition, representing “33 of the leading veterans and uniformed services organizations,” is planning a protest for Tuesday, October 15 in Washington DC.