Shutdown Help For Veterans - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Shutdown Help For Veterans

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Aiken County, SC -

Less than 24 hours into the shutdown, we are already hearing from veterans who are worried about what's going to happen to their benefits, and their families.

One of the VA offices closed by the shutdown? The outreach office that should be answer veterans' questions.

So, we spoke with one veteran about the issue, and went looking for answers.

"I just love to sit here, watch 'em blow," John Anderson says about his flags.  Old Glory is of course on top.

Anderson loves this country: As a disabled veteran, he sacrificed his health for it.

"I was in Vietnam when they sprayed Agent Orange, now it's got some bad effects," he says.

And some of his friends gave up more.

"They gave the ultimate sacrifice, and to let this country treat us the way they're treating us, that's not right," Anderson says.

He may love this country, but now there's no love lost for its leaders.

"I'm really disappointed, not at Republicans, not at Democrats, not at the President, at all of them," Anderson says.  "How can they say, 'Okay we're just going to cut you off,' how can they say that with a straight face? Just because they're bickering."

Vets like Anderson, already receiving benefits will keep receiving benefits until the money's gone; and that could be before the end of this month.

"The VA has stated that if this shutdown goes more than a few weeks, they'll cash out, they can't make next month's payments," says Tom Tarantino of IAVA. "It is just absolutely unconscionable that congress cannot get their act together."

"That check supports my family, pays my bills, supports my wife, when it's gone what am I going to do," Anderson asks.

Anderson volunteers to help other disabled vets get their claims processed.  The VA has already halted responding to appealed claims, and if the shutdown continues, the VA eventually will have to cut off processing new claims. Anderson says the men and women he helps are scared:

"They're saying, 'John, what do I do, I need to get gas, I need to feed my family.'"

Anderson says he doesn't know what to say to them, but he does know what he wants to say to our lawmakers.

"I was over there defending you, protecting your life," he says, "quit the bickering."

One organization that helps all veterans, is IAVA--Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.  IAVA has created a resource guide for veterans that here.

The VA has also created a field guide that you can find here.

Anderson also says that veterans can reach out to their local chapter of Disabled American Veterans.

And, one resource for veterans that remains open is the crisis line; that number is 1-800-273-TALK -press "1."


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