On the same day dozens of veterans and military organizations rallied at the WWII Memorial in Washington D.C., the group “Paralyzed Veterans of America” is warning the federal government that time is running out for vets.
Sherman Gillums, the associate executive director of veterans’ benefits for PVA, says even if a deal was reached today, it might not come soon enough for veterans to receive their monthly benefits on Nov. 1.
“This is a particularly sensitive time because if it doesn’t happen now, procedurally, you won’t have things in place to ensure that the checks will go out on Nov. 1,” he said, adding that dueling lawmakers must remember that our nation is still at war.
“And when these men and women return, this is what they’re going to return to. Not just the transition issues, not just the reintegration issues. But a government that can’t guarantee they'll receive a paycheck,” Gillums said.
According to Gillums, there are 3.8 million disabled vets in the U.S. More than 300,000 receive a pension from the VA and more than 40,000 are paralyzed.
Some vets rely on their monthly benefits as their sole source of income or payment for caregivers who are vital to their daily living.
“You’re also talking about caregivers who may walk away from this industry because they’re not getting paid,” said Gillums.
Those benefits are also extended to some children of disabled veterans who use the money to attend college.
No money, no classes.
Veterans’ hospitals are still in operation because Congress approved their funding a year in advance.
But Gillums warns that reaching across the aisle to reach a deal in Washington may not be enough to resolve the issue of benefits since it will take added time to reinstate furloughed workers and for them to catch up on processing claims after three weeks of inaction.
"The men and women who go overseas and serve this country don’t have the option of shutting down,” he said. “And their job is arguably much harder than sitting there having to reconcile a budget. We can get this together. We have to get it together. We don’t have a choice.”