The following is taken in part from the text of a letter sent by VVA National President John Rowan to Senator Bernie Sanders, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
"It is a sorry state of affairs that our nation is stuck in a shutdown that should never have transpired but for the intransigence of a certain few who are blocking a clean Continuing Resolution (CR). The government needs to be reopened, by passage of a CR, because Congress has failed to pass the twelve appropriation bills necessary to fully fund the government for FY 2014. The looming threat of default, of being unable to pay veterans' compensation and pension payments on November 1, will cause many veterans who depend on this money for their survival to have a worsening of their condition, resulting in avoidable hospitalizations and possibly even preventable suicides.
"It is the role of Congress to pass the federal budget by the beginning of the federal fiscal year, October 1. Congress--on both sides of Capitol Hill-- has failed to accomplish this in a timely fashion in 23 of the past 27 years. For this reason, the veterans' service organizations, supported by The Military Coalition and other groups, united and won from Congress advance appropriations for the VA's medical accounts, which amount to some 86 percent of the VA's discretionary budget. In addition, Vietnam Veterans of America fully supports enactment of H.R. 813, the Putting Veterans Funding First Act of 2013, which would move the balance of the VA's discretionary accounts over to advance appropriations.
"The failure of the House to even permit a vote to go along with the Senate to enact a clean CR has failed America. Even if the appropriation to the VA was funded, the failure to fund the U.S. Park Service is but one example of how veterans rely on a federal government that works. Just as we do not want to see any disruption in the flow of benefits needed by many veterans and their families--disability, pension, education, survivor, and other programs under Title 38—we do not want to see veterans used as pawns in games of political one-upsmanship. For those in Congress to act as if they had nothing to do with closing access to the memorials is outrageous demagoguery. Using veterans as pawns in politics is dishonorable and a disservice to the honored dead who are memorialized at these sites."
Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA's founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”
301-585-4000, Ext. 146
301-585-4000, Ext. 146