As Government Shutdown Ends, IAVA Highlights Ongoing Damage
Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the leading post-9/11 veterans empowerment organization, calls on the Administration and Congress to ensure the impacts of the partial government shutdown are fully addressed. As the recent announcement of President Trump signals an end to the 35-day unnecessary, harmful, and damaging government shutdown, IAVA reminds all Americans that it has already cost millions of American families dearly through lost paychecks, unpaid work, and shuttered government services.
Today, over 800,000 federal employees missed a second paycheck. After over a month of turmoil, an increasingly frustrated government workforce, multiple paychecks showing $0.00, President Trump announced an end to the shutdown. However, the damage has already been done and the impact of this partial government shutdown will continue to reverberate for months to come.
About one-third of federal employees are veterans, and that does not include contractors or veteran families that have been impacted by the shutdown. Based on Office of Personnel Management data, about 155,000 veterans work at the agencies affected by the shutdown. The veteran community will continue to feel the effects of this partial government shutdown from outstanding bills to the morale and mental health impacts of going without pay for over a month.
The financial and employment stress of a shutdown on the veteran population cannot be understated. Veterans are already a vulnerable population , and this partial government shutdown can cause severe financial hardship for veterans and trigger undo stress on those with mental health injuries – both of which are contributing factors in the suicide epidemic our country faces, especially in regard to veterans who are at a higher risk for suicide.
“As a veteran and former federal employee, I am painfully aware of the impact this protracted and unnecessary shutdown had on federal employees and their families — many of whom are veterans and continued to serve their country after their tour of duty came to a close. It is shameful that the Administration and Congress put partisan bickering over the well-being and stability of veterans, the Coast Guard, the federal workforce, and their families for so long. While it is a much needed relief that the shutdown is over, we must come together and ensure this never happens again” said Melissa Bryant, Chief Policy Officer of IAVA.
IAVA and leading non-partisan veterans groups fought the shutdown back in 2013 and worked to ensure that VA had systems in place to protect veterans in the event of a future shutdown. Today, because of that advocacy nearly six years ago, VA benefits and healthcare are much less affected. However, veterans who work in the other agencies, as well as uniformed services such as the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Public Health Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have already been deeply impacted.
IAVA’s dynamic Rapid Response Referral Program (RRRP) is also available to help those veterans impacted by the shutdown. IAVA’s innovative social workers are trained to help veterans and military family members navigate all types of transition issues. If the government shutdown affected veterans’ livelihood or well being and they need support, our highly-skilled RRRP team will do their best to help.
IAVA will continue to pressure the Administration and Congress to ensure that another damaging shutdown does not happen again. Grassroots members nationwide have been mobilized on the ground and online to take action-and to support their fellow veterans if our government will not.