How is the government shutdown affecting Americans? Yahoo asked those impacted to share their stories. Here’s one.
COMMENTARY | On Tuesday, the United States government was yet again shutdown. As politicians failed to reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling a shutdown failed to be averted. One of the many groups affected are veterans. As a veteran of the Marine Corps, I know many families, including my own, which will be affected by our politician’s failures.
Like many veterans, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. I also have significant damage to my spine. Living near Los Angeles, I regularly receive treatment at the local Veterans Administration (VA) hospital. At 34, I have a great deal of chronic pain in my back, and I often have difficulty walking as a result. Thankfully the hospitals will stay open. Although it is great that such a vital service as health care will remain intact many services will be suspended.
The shutdown will cause reduced veteran services. Several veteran call centers will cease operations. Presidential Memorial certificates will not be processed. Even interments at National Cemeteries will be conducted on a reduced schedule. I find it sad that politics can get in the way of taking care of our patriots.
One of the most important reduced services to my family centers around the compensation appeals process. I currently have an appeal awaiting review. While the government is shutdown no new decisions on disability claims appeals will be issued. Delaying decisions prevents veterans from getting the compensation and treatments they deserve.
While my family and other veterans wait for the appeals process to continue we will be forced to find ways to cover our needs out of our own expenses. The VA has an enormous responsibility to take care of many in desperate need of help. In 2010 veterans visited VA hospitals over 80 million times. Appeals allow veterans to gain access to the care they need.
Delaying the appeals process means delaying the care. It means breaking the promises our government made to veterans. I am disappointed in our politicians for allowing veterans and many other groups to pay the price for their failures. It is especially disappointing that during the shutdown members of Congress and President Obama will still get paid.
It is my hope that our elected officials will focus on the people they are hurting rather than their agendas. Congress needs to be accountable to the people.