Veterans Must Prepare for Significant Benefits Delays, Says Disabled Veterans National Foundation
WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Disabled Veterans National Foundation (www.dvnf.org), a non-profit veterans service organization that focuses on helping men and women who serve and return home wounded or sick after defending our safety and our freedom, is reminding veterans affected by the government shutdown to prepare for delayed benefits in the event of a long term shutdown.
With news that the Department of Veterans Affairs furloughed some 7,000 employees of regional offices of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), the government shutdown is beginning to take a profound effect on the veterans it serves. As the House, Senate, and White House attempt to negotiate a budget deal to end the shutdown, there is no way to know how long the process will take.
The last time the government shut down was at the end of 1995 and did not end until January of 1996, a 21-day ordeal. As VA Sec. Shinseki pointed out to lawmakers in a Wednesday hearing, that shutdown took place during peacetime, whereas we have been engaged in Afghanistan for 13 years. He stated that a prolonged shutdown would be devastating to veterans, especially given the rate at which veterans have enrolled in VA care compared to the 1990's.
DVNF is urging veterans to take steps to mitigate the potentially damaging effects of a prolonged shut down. VA operations are expected to run mostly normal through the end of October. If a shutdown goes past that estimated time, November 1 benefits payments could be delayed.
For veterans with who have limited flexibility on their monthly finances, it is important to anticipate this delay in payments, and begin to budget accordingly. It is also important for veterans to speak to their landlord now, as many landlords might be willing to offer payment terms in the event of a delay.
"We are hopeful that a deal will be struck very soon so veterans are not the ones who have to bear the brunt of this unfortunate circumstance," said Joseph VanFonda (SgtMaj Ret), DVNF's Executive Director. "If this shutdown goes on for much longer, it will cripple the finances of many, many veterans who are living on a strict budget with limited resources, and might potentially even render them homeless. They deserve better."
VanFonda's comments echoed those of Sec. Shinseki, who pointed out that 600,000 federal government employees are veterans, and many would be impacted twice as hard. Shinseki also made the point that even if the VA were to be fully funded during the shutdown, crossover initiatives with other government departments that greatly benefit veterans would still be unable to function.
DVNF is hopeful that we hope that banks, lenders, landlords and utility companies would be willing to work with our American veterans during this historical dilemma.
For more, go to www.dvnf.org.
Doug Walker, Communications Manager, 202-737-0522 Email
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SOURCE Disabled Veterans National Foundation