Prolonged Shutdown Could Mean Hard Times for Veterans

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

CORALVILLE, Iowa – Some veterans and their families might be living on a tight budget if the government shutdown stalemate continues.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, payments in the compensation, pension, education and vocational rehabilitation programs will continue through October. If there's a prolonged shutdown, those payments would end when funding dries up.

People, like disabled veterans who depend on that monthly compensation, are starting to worry about what November could bring.

Anthony and Jori Hendon are officially in what they call 'save mode.'

"Putting some [money] back here and there now, to make sure we have our mortgage and to make sure we can cover our car," Anthony Hendon said.

They just received an email from the Disabled American Veterans or DAV warning them about the funding situation.

"I am [in] a panic. I'm the person who does the money in our house ... It's over a third of our income," said Jori Hendon.

Anthony gets a check for his disability every month because of an injury he received while serving in the Navy.

"Somebody has to throw that cargo around, and I did a lot of that and that's where I actually wound up damaging my back," Anthony Hendon said.

Anthony is not alone. The DAV said in 2013 the government paid $76.3 billion for disability compensation, pensions and survivors benefits.

"There currently are 3.8 million people who receive compensation and pensions form the VA. If their payments don't go out in time, they're looking at a pretty dismal holiday season," said DAV Deputy National Director of Communications David Autry.

"I had already started shopping for Christmas, and I've stopped because that's something I love to do but it's a luxury," Jori Hendon said.

The Hendon's said they hope the budget deadlock comes to an end before their payments do.

"We wouldn't be destitute to living in the gutter, but it could be really unhappy," Anthony Hendon said.

For now, though, they'll keep a close watch on congress over the next couple of weeks.

"It's just kind of waiting for the storm to hit and seeing whether or not it hits because you can't just go along like nothing is going to happen," Jori Hendon said.

The national DAV chapter said if congress does end the government shutdown before the end of October, veterans and their families might still get their November payments. They could be late, but it all depends on how this shutdown shapes up in D.C.

Officials with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs said it has enough money to continue supporting VA medical centers, clinics and other health services through 2014.

The Press Secretary, however, said starting Tuesday, Oct. 8, about 7,000 Veterans Benefits Administration employees will be furloughed. That means vets trying to access regional offices for questions and services will be met with locked doors.
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