Prolonged shutdown may hurt veterans
Marcus Clem | editor in chief
Just about everything the federal government does that’s not required to protect life and property is in limbo.
Checks coming, for now
One of the government’s essential services that remain open is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The VA regulates G.I. Bill payments and other assistance to 246 Pittsburg State student veterans.
A VA announcement published on Monday, Sept. 30, to address veterans’ anxiety shows a more uncertain future.
“Claims processing and payments in the compensation, pension, education and vocational rehabilitation programs,” the announcement said, “are anticipated to continue through late October.
“However, in the event of a prolonged shutdown … these programs would be suspended when available funding is exhausted.”
Pvt. Andrew Hodson, a student veteran and member of the Kansas Army National Guard, says that fact worries him.
“If I lost that then I don’t know what I would do,” said Hodson, freshman in nursing. “If the government promises you something and then takes it away that’s kind of screwing you right there … I hope that they get going and find a solution.”
Worry not, VA says
Sherry Roberts, administrative specialist for the registrar’s office and Veterans Affairs contact, says that she’s tried to reassure the students who have come to her with concerns.
“I’ve told them that the government can’t close down indefinitely,” she said. “The best way to think about this is to know that it can’t stay closed forever. They have to come to a resolution eventually.”
Roberts says that she’s confident that she’ll be able to continue helping student veterans as much as they need, but it may get harder if the government remains shut down.
“This does make my job more difficult,” she said. “This is people’s income, how they pay their bills, how they eat.
“I don’t know if I could say I’m upset, but I am concerned that my students are concerned about how they are going to pay their bills.”
Troops not affected
The shutdown itself has nothing to do with veterans. In fact, the U.S. Congress passed a new bill in the days before it began to ensure pay for active duty troops for the duration.
All funding that Pitt State’s Reserve Officer Training Corps program depends on is secure for the moment, says Lt. Col. Christopher Lambert, professor of military science.
“It does not affect our scholarship dollars at all,” he said. “Obviously, some funding in place may be affected, and like the rest of the country we’ll be watching the future funding situation. We’re just watching it day by day.”