As America enters its third week of a government shutdown, The American Legion's national website features a clock that is counting down to the day when millions of America's veterans will stop receiving about $6 billion in benefits — Nov. 1. During his press conference Tuesday at the Indiana War Memorial in Indianapolis, American Legion National Commander Daniel Dellinger announced that the world is watching the clock tick.
"The clock is ticking toward a crisis for America's veterans and for our national security," Dellinger said. "Government officials have stated that if a solution is not achieved by Nov. 1, veterans will not receive their VA benefits. Health care and disability payments for veterans is a long-term cost of war.
"Consider the message we are sending to young people thinking of joining the Armed Forces if our nation stops paying for education benefits under the GI Bill. Consider the message we are sending to our enemies in the Global War on Terrorism. Washington must not let the clock at the top of The American Legion's website tick down to zero."
Dellinger shared the words of a young veteran who expressed her dismay over the shutdown by saying, "I wouldn't have agreed to go to Afghanistan to help repair someone else's government if I knew that when I got back that I would return to a dysfunctional and broken one of my own." Several other veterans wrote to the Legion about the personal impact of the shutdown, and Dellinger shared a few of their stories. One was from a disabled veteran who wrote that her husband, also a disabled veteran, is a furloughed civilian employee of the U.S. Army. The couple faces losing all income if VA disability benefits disappear on Nov. 1. Another was from a National Guardsman whose orders were suspended until the shutdown ends; he has no other source of income.
"It is inexcusable that this failure to govern has disproportionately impacted U.S. military veterans and their families," Dellinger said. "I implore Congress to fund the government and end this shutdown now. It is an embarrassment to our nation; it is a cruelty to veterans and their families.
"I am calling upon American Legion members nationwide and patriotic Americans everywhere to step forward and hold their elected officials accountable for this failure. The clock ticks toward Nov. 1 for all of us."