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Government shutdown: How it will affect veterans

UPDATE: The Department of Veterans Affairs will continue to pay benefits to veterans who are already entitled to them, but won’t process any new claims for the GI Bill during  a government shutdown.

In a two-page field guide posted to its website, the VA says all medical facilities and clinics will remain open. It appears all benefits payments, including existing GI Bill payouts, should continue uninterrupted. With the exception of the new GI Bill claims, the VA says processing of claims for benefits with continue, but probably on a reduced schedule.

Many, but not all, of the VA national phone numbers will be shut down, as well. No word on whether you’ll get a recording or if the phones will just ring and ring and ring …

The field guide is at va.gov.

 

WASHINGTON -- The Department of Veterans Affairs is less likely to see major disruptions than other government agencies in the event of a government shutdown, but that doesn't mean everything will remain normal for veterans seeking help.

According to a VA department official, veterans health care services will remain operating despite the budget impasse. Veterans’ medical appointments will not be canceled or delayed, and hospitals will stay open. That's because most of the funding for those efforts was covered in advance appropriations legislation, passed by Congress well before the current budget stalemate.

The official also said that in the short term, "veterans currently receiving VA benefits will continue to receive those payments on a timely basis and without interruption." But the VA could not say specifically what will happen to GI Bill benefits, and whether they are included in that group. They also would not speculate on how a long-term shutdown might cause delays to those payouts.

National cemeteries would stay open, but the VA official said some cemeteries may operate on a modified schedule. VA fraud investigations, public outreach programs and services to answer veterans questions would be shut down.

The department has said that if a shutdown occurs they will provide a "Veterans Field Guide" with more details of the services affected. That information will be made available on the VA's web site.

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