Shutdown End Welcomed By VeteransCONTACT: Carlisle Williams (212) 982-9699 or firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Shutdown End Welcomed By Veterans
Impact on Veterans, Servicemembers, Families and Survivors was severe
NEW YORK (October 16, 2013) – Post 9/11 veterans welcomed the long-overdue end of the government shutdown that had a devastating impact on their community – and called on Washington politicians never again to play politics with the benefits and support that they earned. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) had fought over the last few weeks to ensure that Congress and the Administration re-open the government. On Tuesday, IAVA was one of more than 30 leading veterans and uniformed services organizations from The Military Coalition, as well as the American Legion and Disabled Veterans of America, who joined together at the World War II Memorial to demand an end to the government shutdown.
“It’s about time. This shutdown’s impact on our community has been devastating. The shutdown never should have happened in the first place and we’re glad it’s finally over. The only reason veterans and their families had to suffer is because Washington politicians didn’t do their job. Never again should elected officials put veterans disability and GI Bill benefits and other support at risk,” said Paul Rieckhoff, CEO and Founder of IAVA.
“We call on our leaders to keep veterans and our nation above politics in the important days ahead as we approach the last Veterans Day before the end of the war in Afghanistan. It’s time to get back to work on the VA backlog especially, along with other top priorities facing our community. And the shutdown also underscored the importance of passing advanced funding for the entirety of VA. Never again should VA services be interrupted by political posturing,” Rieckhoff added.
During the shutdown, veterans who receive disability and GI Bill benefits and survivors who rely on survivor benefits stressed about getting their next check. National Guard and Reserve monthly training was cancelled, affecting critical troop readiness and pay. Many services that military families count on daily were suspended. Veterans make up 27 percent of the federal workforce and were forced on furlough. The 435,000 veterans in the VA disability claims backlog have to wait even longer. Many veterans stuck in the backlog are featured in IAVA’s online tool, TheWaitWeCarry.org.
VA health care was protected during the shutdown. In 2009, thanks to the efforts of IAVA and other Veterans Service Organizations, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law legislation to fund the VA one year in advance. This allows VA health care to plan ahead and ensures that VA health care is funded for a full year.
Advance funding for VA health care was the centerpiece of IAVA’s Storm the Hill efforts in 2009, and the government shutdown shows how critical advanced funding is. IAVA supports pending Congressional legislation (HR. 813/S. 932) to extend advanced funding to the whole VA and avoid any problems with benefits and services in the future.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has more than 270,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.
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