Sec. Eric Shinseki Explains Shutdown’s Impact on VA

This morning Sec. Eric Shinseki testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee on the impact the government shutdown is having on Veterans, servicemembers and their families.

He explained how Congress’ failure to pass a budget and prevent a government shutdown could impede VA’s ability to pay disability and education benefits, and has already halted progress on the claims backlog, which had been reduced by over 30 percent in recent months.

“The momentum achieved over the past six months has now stalled with the government shutdown,” Shinseki said. He also pointed out that if the shutdown continues into late October and mandatory funding is exhausted, payments to more than 5.18 million beneficiaries may not be made as of Nov.1.

You can read Secretary Shinseki’s complete testimony here.


Reynaldo Leal

– Reynaldo Leal recently joined the VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System as the public affairs officer. He is a proud Marine Corps Veteran who deployed to the Al Anbar Province with 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment in 2004 and 2006. He also took part in some of the heaviest fighting during Operation Phantom Fury in 2004. Before coming to Continental South District he worked on the VA’s Digital Media Engagement team and was the State Public Affairs Specialist for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is glad to be back home in his native South Texas, and looks forward to working for his fellow Veterans. He also looks forward to introducing his two sons to all the great fishing and outdoor opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley.


  1. Robert Earl Saunders, Jr., LTC, USA, RET    

    My service and service related disabilities are not touchable by extra-legal manipulations of the balance of powers. Negotiations on current laws have already occurred. My military service has already been completed with substantial, and confirmed documentation, as well as a host of honorable witnesses. No one has my permission to negotiate my entitlements away. Get back to the work of governing within the law and due process.

  2. John Fisher    

    Why should America deny affordable health care to all it’s citizens? It seems that the health insurance lobbyists are in control of congress and only protect the profits of the health insurance companies. Why are other developed nations able to provide health care for all and we cannot? Why do so many ex house representatives become lobbyists for the insurance companies? Why can the health insurance industry agree on rates while other corporate entities cannot? I am a member of the DAV and am thankful for this VA chief!

  3. Albert auckland    

    Take there salaries and pay the vets

  4. Gerald Reeves    

    The VA and Social Security checks are the only monies a lot of Veterans have and would have to be homeless or look for other places to live and would cripple the economy as to veterans ability to purchase goods or even to pay bills, ;unlike the Congressmen who continue to get paid.

  5. William B.    

    I think a VA anti-fraud division may be in order, as it could pay for itself many times over. If fraudulent disability claims are as high as some estimates (40%!!!), then stopping those payments and prosecuting the perps should be a priority. Same for Social Security Disability, which we just heard probably has 25% fraudulent claims.

    The VA should lead the way, though, and be an example for entitlement world, just as the VA Health system is an example of well-run government health care.

    Just one opinion.

  6. Sgt. D. C. Fairly    

    I am sickened by the complete lack of caring by those members of the GOP , and all of us
    Veterans KNOW WHO YOU ARE, that seem to think that we Veterans have not PAID the price for what they want to CRY ABOUT !!!! ITs NOT YOUR MONEY !!!!!!

  7. Anthony Smith    

    Its a shame our country is unable to make decisions.
    My VA Disability approval has been waiting since 2007.
    Ashame. During my 20 years on active duty, decision making was critical, critical, critical.
    If I didn’t make good safe decisions, to be frank, I would have been disciplined up to and including discharge other than honorable.

    I just want to be compensated fairly for my servitude of 20 years and not have to suffer any more time waiting on Capital Hill to be incompetent and unable to make the right decisions for this great country that we so fought for and still fighting.

    As a movie actor once said, and I quote, ” I just want our country to love us as much as we love it”!! Unquote!

  8. Michell Lytle    

    I thank God that Sec. Shinseki is letting congress know the issues that this shutdown is creating for myself and other veterans. I am currently receiving 30% in compensation and Chapter 31 educational benefits. This is all the income I have after being forced to leave a $70,000 per year job due to my physical and mental health last year. I am still pending a decision for an appeal for my current compensation benefit, which has been pending for two years. I also am waiting for a decision on new claims. I am a female veteran and with the limited resources VA has for homeless veterans, loss of any benefit income for me would be devastating.

  9. tomas gomez    

    i was a republican. not anymore!!

  10. Matthew W Hall    

    My name is Matthew Hall,I am a Disabled Veteran.I am also a dececendent of Lyman Hall and a few of the other Four Fathers and I believe like me it would make them turn over in their graves the way our counties leadership can’t seem to get along to do their jobs.If Old Ben was here he would say “Do the Job,Or get out and let some one in who will…’

  11. ken crosby    

    This is my family and my major source of income and we already struggle because the time lines its taking to process my appeals we just make it at months end if no check on 11-1-13 we will not pay any of our bills no housing no food no needs for my 4 kids nothing at all

  12. Paul Louis    

    here are a few ways to impove the VA healthcare system where I work.

    Keep Starbucks out! Hire from within and pay a competitive salary (remember the death of Mather VA barista, Ken Gilmore)

    Pay all employees competitive salaries. For example, medical support assistants and LVNs should start at a GS-7 level.

    Give every VA a fully staffed walk-in clinic. Urgent care clinic wait times are too long, nullifying the name, urgent care.

    Stop lying to ourselves! We cannot call ourselves a PACT (patient aligned care team) if we are not staffed with enough personnel.

    Hire forward thinkers who embrace innovative care and are not afraid to try new and radical ideas, so we can beat our compeitition (Kaiser, Johns Hopkins, etc). The business as usual leaders with no vision need to be encouraged to retire.

    Take the limits off the VA healthcare system. Eliminate referrals and allow people to walk/call in to specialties and get quickly evaluated and booked on the spot.

    Any homeless or clothleless vet who walks into a VA should immediately enter our “Makeover Clinic” (one of my future concepts). Here they can shower, receive a haircut/shave, be given a nice set of clothing to immediately change into, so not to offend or be embarrassed due to shabby appearance or body odor.

    They should then be referred to a VA Transitional Tower, which would resemble a 5-star, Trump Towers! There, vets would receive mental care, job placement, and a swanky place until on their feet.

  13. Lester Allen Barclay    

    How do you shut down what is fully funded. Oh thats easy you have your Government Union members in finance put the kibosh on all payments. Or you give a published direct order from the presidents office to send critical Civil Service people in those financial areas home.
    All of this is illegal of course, but its never the less being done. I called my AMSA RES support Maintenance shop where I retired and they were all sent home when PR. Obama found out it was illegal to give a Direct order for fully funded personnel home he made a excuse that he had found the money to keep them open. That is a lie. And a lie committed against our civil defence dept of the ARMY personnel. Take a look around you VA Personel how is this being done? The President found money to be on prime time TV on every station for 1 hour 25 minutes the last time I calculated that kind of money it would have bought enough Guards to our WWII national monument in Washington to keep it open. Excuse me that much money would bought enough guards for 10 NFL Football games and pay’ed all the sponsors. Take a look around who among you is floating these funding lie’s?

  14. LaShon    

    It’s sad that congress is holding veterans and civilians lively-hood at stake for their own personal gain. I think that they should have a law that would prevent congress from being paid if a government shut-down goes into effect. Maybe that would be an effective way to get congress to see the urgency in this matter.

  15. mailinh dean    

    how long the shotdown will last?how about our needs,,..?food, dic survivor affected nov 1

  16. Jim Brier    

    Please do not let this effect the Veterans benefits at VA Medical Centers. I served my time and I now need the VA to keep my health care without any disruption.

    Best Regards,
    James Brier

  17. mailinh dean    

    …have mercy on us…pls

  18. Danom    

    Thats really sad 🙁 Hope will recover very fast 🙁

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