With all the buzz in the news recently about a government shut down, it’s gotten many military veterans nervous. The government last shut down for an extended period was in 2013 and we learned a lot about how that impacts people in our community and around the United States. The government has a lot of moving parts, including many that affect our nation’s veterans and their families, so it’s inevitable that a government shutdown would directly affect their lives. The federal government provides many services to our veterans that can abruptly cease in a shutdown.
The services provided and that can be unavailable during a government shut down include everything from health care to education, housing, recreation and subsidized groceries. What we learned in the 2013 government shut down is that veterans’ lives can be severely interrupted. Disability claims made through the VA can be halted, non-emergency surgeries cancelled, and the death benefits allotted to families who lost family members unavailable. Child care centers can close leaving parents wondering who can watch their child while they are at work.
For those seeking disability benefits, it can also be a difficult time. The SSA is run by the federal government which can cause even more delays if the government is shut down. It’s widely known that the SSA has been backlogged for several months, a government shut down could add to that backlog. In short, a government shut down can have serious daily impacts on our veterans, their families and those who are otherwise disabled.
There are other parties a government shut down can impact too. Ideally, the government shutdown would cease and be avoided. Other alternatives would be to pass legislation that would keep veterans benefits and other services run by the federal government open and running even during a government shut down. That seems like a reasonable request to avoid veterans’ issues. Especially since veterans have little say in whether the federal government is running or is completely halted.
Source: vox.com, “The real victims of government shutdowns are poor kids, military vets, and low-paid workers,” Alexia Fernandez Campbell, January 22, 2018