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Millions of Veterans Will Lose Benefits if Shutdown Continues

10:10 PM, Oct 9, 2013   |    comments
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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Lawmakers scrambled Wednesday afternoon to undo what's been called disgraceful -- shameful -- and embarrassing. 

Families of soldiers killed in action were told their survivor benefits would be suspended because of the shutdown. 

The House voted to restore benefits this afternoon - but until the Senate and President act, the non-profit Fisher House Foundation has stepped in to make sure families get the benefits they deserve. 

READ: Military Death Benefits Hastily Restored

The concerns of the military community aren't over. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs warned millions of living veterans might lose benefits. 

The VA has furloughed nearly 15,000 employees. They've suspended appeals and closed regional offices. Claims are being processed but the work on the software to eliminate the backlog of claims has stopped. 

Secretary Shinseki met with the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs and warned them what could happen next. 

 "The fact is, you know, I've indicated one November, I will not be able to pay all these beneficiaries who are expecting those checks.  I -- I need the authorization -- appropriations and a budget to be able to do that," said Shinseki. 

Shinseki says millions of veterans will not receive their benefits if the shutdown continues. Nearly 4-million veterans will lose disability compensation. 300,000 veterans and 200,000 surviving spouses stand to lose their pension payments. In all, $6 billion in payments would be suspended if the shutdown continues.

Shinseki said, "I would say that what is best for veterans and for all of us right now is a -- a budget for the entire federal government.  Let us get back to work. The sooner we do it, the faster I get back up to full speed." 

Veterans aren't only losing services from the V-A. The Small Business Administration has closed 10 centers helping vets operate businesses and HUD is not issuing new housing vouchers to homeless veterans. Veterans depending on the G-I-Bill might have problems paying for tuition if the shutdown continues.

READ: Veterans' Field Guide to Government Shutdown

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