ESPY — One group of people affected by the government shutdown is veterans. VA hospitals will stay open throughout the shutdown but funding for benefits could disappear by the end of the month.
The Susquehanna Valley World War II Veterans group meets once a month for lunch near Bloomsburg. Some of the vets discussed the government shutdown and its effect on veterans. Some say it does not bother them but some are very concerned.
Around 75 veterans met for lunch Thursday at the Espy Fire Hall near Bloomsburg.
The luncheon is a monthly tradition for the Susquehanna Valley World War II Veterans group and this time, the government shutdown was on the minds of some of them.
“I think it’s a mess. It’s something that shouldn’t be, especially how we’re being treated. That’s the sad part, like the veterans going down to the memorial in Washington,” said Robert Shuey of Shamokin.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, VA hospitals will not close during the government shutdown. But if the shutdown continues, funding for benefits and programs could run out by the end of October.
That concerns John Thomas, a Vietnam veteran.
“Since I’ve had a claim pending, I’m hoping it gets processed prior to the end of October. I’ve had this claim pending for nearly a year.”
Not all of the vets are affected by the government shutdown.
“Instead of getting paid by the VA, I get paid by the Air Force for my disability,” Bill Woznek of Bloomsburg explained.
Most of the veterans tell us that the fact that funding benefits could disappear by the end of the month should be enough incentive for elected leaders to come up with a solution to the government shutdown.”
“All of a sudden we’re less important than the politics of things and that’s not right. People should come ahead of politics,” Thomas said.
The director of the Columbia County Veterans Affairs office was at the luncheon to answer any questions.
“In the county here, we just keep doing what we do every day. Certain services at the federal level may be cut down, but not ours,” said Columbia County Director of Veterans Affairs James Merk.
For more information on what veterans services are and are not affected by the government shutdown, click here.