More than 7,000 employees in Veterans Benefits Administration offices nationwide were furloughed today (Tues/8), the newest casualty of the federal government shutdown.
As the Republicans in Washington hold the nation hostage over President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, federal employees are leaving their offices in droves. Now the veterans who rely on the federal government for healthcare and education checks have nothing to do but wait on word of their uncertain futures.
The furlough of veterans benefits workers comes at an especially awful time as they struggle to meet an enormous backlog of health benefit claims, revealed this year by the Berkeley-based Center for Investigative Reporting.
“VA’s ability to make significant progress reducing the disability claims backlog is hampered without the increased productivity gained from overtime for claims processors,” the Veterans Benefits Administration said in a statement released today. The agency has reduced the disability claims backlog by more than 190,000 claims over the last six months, it wrote.
But even worse, it said that if the government shutdown persists into late October there would be no funding available to supply veterans with their November support checks -- money many rely on for rent and food.
Led by veterans from Iraq Veterans Against the War and Veterans for Peace, supporters of army PFC Bradley Manning protested in some 35 US cities tonight. The protests were planned to coincide with the Democratic National Convention, to demand that President Obama pardon Manning.
They also demanded that the President “retract and apologize for remarks made in 2011, in which he said Bradley Manning ‘broke the law.’” Read more »
Lest we forget, today marks the ninth anniversary of the start of our war in Iraq. If you plan on passing by City Hall today, you'll have a vivid reminder of today's important milestone -- 481 pairs of combat boots will be lined up on the seat of our city government's steps, a visual precursor to the afternoon of speeches by vets and their families that has been organized by the Bay Area chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Read more »