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Commander: Threat to veterans 'cruel'

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American Legion National Commander Dan Dellinger addressed Legionnaires, reporters and spectators in front of the barricaded National World War II Memorial this morning to speak on behalf of veterans and families whose federal benefits are being threatened by the continuing suspension of government services.

During the news conference, Dellinger made a strong appeal to lawmakers and the administration to end the partial government shutdown as quickly as possible.

"This week, because of the government shutdown, veterans of (World War II) were denied access to (this) monument honoring their sacrifices," Dellinger said. "That didn’t stop them. They simply went through the barricades, some in wheelchairs, passing federal authorities, to pay their respects. These proud veterans were not going to let themselves become pawns in a stalemate among politicians. No veteran should ever be so exploited.

"Congress’ failure to achieve a funding solution has led to a warning that VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) disability and education benefits will be suspended if the standoff continues through the end of this month." The threat to veterans’ benefits is "not only cruel but absurd," he added.

Dellinger also talked of the government shutdown’s deleterious effects on VA efforts to make significant progress on the claims processing backlog. "The government shutdown has already brought an end to mandatory overtime for VA claims processors," he said. "These processors were finally making headway against a problem that has persisted for over a decade. The inability of Congress to achieve a solution stands to unravel all that hard-earned progress.

"The American Legion cannot understand why veterans are first on the list of spending sacrifices as Congress fails to achieve a solution. We have been assured by the president and by Congress on numerous occasions that the budget won’t be balanced on the backs of veterans. And yet, here we are.

"As commander of the nation’s largest veterans organization, I implore our elected officials to work together to reach an agreement. Veterans should not have to suffer over Congress’ inability to do its job. Ironically, when our nation’s veterans were told to take Hamburger Hill, Pork Chop Hill and numerous other hills in God-forbidden places around the globe, they never thought they’d have to come home and fight on Capitol Hill for the gratitude of a grateful nation."

Dellinger concluded his speech by answering questions from reporters covering the news conference. One reporter asked what method The American Legion favors for politicians to end the government shutdown. "We don’t care how it’s done, we just want our veterans taken care of," Dellinger replied.

Another reporter asked Dellinger who he blames for the political impasse that has resulted in the shutdown. Dellinger explained the organization’s non-partisan stance, and then declared, "We blame the president, the House and the Senate." Spectators applauded.

Shortly after the press event ended, a wheelchair-bound World War II veteran being accompanied by his daughter and grandson approached the wired-shut barricades surrounding the memorial built in his honor. A news camera operator produced a pair of pliers, snipped the offending wire and, along with a Legionnaire, parted the barrier. The anonymous veteran chuckled, thanked his "liberators," and happily entered the memorial grounds.

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Charles Cundiff

October 9, 2013 - 12:41pm

The real problem is not the shut down, the real problem is that our Pseudo Leader Bungles Obama is uneducated, he is inexperienced, and he is incompetent as a Leader. Plus it is obvious he hates the Military and he hates VETERANS most of all.

Cheif Standingbear

October 9, 2013 - 5:58pm

Why not he hates God And Jesus. He stopped Military Chaplin's form saying the name of Jesus. Put him in harms way and let him try to get benefits.

crossfire

October 9, 2013 - 5:45am

I think congress and Obama should not be paid before they take our disability checks away

Robert Wentz,PUFL

October 9, 2013 - 3:13am

The head of the National Park Service should be fired for failing to uphold the Constitution and the leader of our veteran's organization needs the integrity of a General George Patton!

ChuckLam

October 8, 2013 - 8:02pm

I am getting fed up with Obama and crew. You can blame this stupidity on the Tea Party if you want but I won't. The Tea Party is standing up for the average American, Vet and non-Vet. Obama and his liberal buddies are the ones determined to make the average American suffer the most from this supposed shutdown. Is Michelle cooking for the first family now and who is making up their beds each morning? You can bet the Barack doesn't shine his own shoes.

WildBillJr

October 6, 2013 - 7:57pm

I was there and after it was opened literally a few hundred people were walking around. The only thing that was closed was the gift shop and the bathrooms. Even an honor flight showed up with a bus full of WW2 vets. The park police were there and were nice as could be. It was a great day a little bit hot, but other than that it was a great day for the legion

John La Rochelle

October 5, 2013 - 11:18pm

Does anyone actually believe the National Commander ever sees or hears comments from the ordinary members or is concerned with their individual plights. Its all political and culminates in deals.

K. Robert Lewis

October 5, 2013 - 10:22am

National staff were not stopped when they opened the barriers, so a civil disobedience was not in order. The Commander spoke about more than just the WWII Memorial issue, and was covered by the press and the national electronic media. A call to our elected officials to DO THE RIGHT THING by our active duty military and veterans. Call YOUR Congressman and Senator today and share the Commanders message.. I am certain that there IS staff to relay your message.

usafvet123

October 4, 2013 - 7:59pm

Blah, blah, blah. Not getting their hands dirty by actually moving the barricades and entering the memorial. WWII vets in wheel chairs had more fortitude than the national commander and his staff. What's the worse thing to happen if the national commander entered the memorial? A citation from the police and immediate coverage by international media. he gave a speech and no one saw it. Where is the actual outrage by the leadership of vets organizations? Will one of them call for a rally of vets at a memorial and challenge the police to arrest them? Why are the vets organizations playing nice-nice?

billwoos

October 4, 2013 - 1:48pm

Thank you for standing up Commander. While I wish that you would have been a bit stronger in your comments, I do understand that we as an organization walk a fine line politically. I have to think that my Dad WWII, and my Grandfather WWI, would have loved to have gone to Washington and slapped the poop out of Reid, Boehner and especially Obama. They and their buddies could have solved this in a heartbeat. At any rate, Thank you for standing up for us.

Jazpfau

October 7, 2013 - 11:48pm

Ditto from Orange County!

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