Troops’ death benefits delayed by shutdown bullies

| October 8, 2013

ROS and Parachute Cutie sent us a link to Defense One which reports that the Pentagon won’t be paying death benefits to the families of those four troops who were killed in Afghanistan this past weekend until the shutdown ends;

“We’ve had a number of people die recently and we will be able to pay them, but not until the lapse of appropriation ends,” Pentagon Comptroller Bob Hale said in a phone briefing Friday to explain Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s interpretation of last week’s Pay Our Military Act. “We’re trying to be helpful through aid societies and others to the family members who are involved in these tragic circumstances. But unfortunately, we don’t have the legal authority to make those payments.”

Lawmakers hastily assembled the bill to keep military paychecks coming despite Washington’s shutdown — and to show Congress and the White House’s commitment to America’s troops despite their mistrust of one another. But the measure’s vague language has sown widespread confusion among active duty military and their families as to what the law does and does not cover.

And, of course, unwilling to let a good excuse to go unused, the Veterans Affairs Department is blaming the shutdown on the backlog of claims – even though that’s been going on for years. Chief Tango sends this link to Stars & Stripes;

The number of veterans claims pending for more than 125 days rose by 239 in the first few days of the government shutdown, which began Oct.1. In the previous 10 days, the backlog had dropped by more than 16,000 cases.

The backlog peaked in March at more than 608,000 overdue claims, and now sits just under 419,000.

VA officials had warned last week that the government shutdown could “reverse progress” with the claims backlog, since a number of case processors were furloughed and mandatory overtime for others was halted as a result of the budget fight.

“Due to the government shutdown, this clear progress for veterans and their families is at risk,” the department said in a statement, which also blamed Congress for a “failure to act” to prevent the problem.

I hear the shutdown also caused 9-11 and the Vietnam War.

Also from Chief Tango, a link from Army Times which reports that the VA bought a $562,000 piece of art in the days leading up to the shutdown. Of course, Shinseki hasn’t responded to Congress’ inquiries on that purchase.

So, it’s beginning to look like the shutdown is being shouldered by veterans and the military as well as balancing the budget.

Category: Barack Obama/Joe Biden, Congress sucks

Comments (30)

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  1. El Marco says:

    $562,000 for a piece of art?

    Crap, I’m in the wrong line of work.

  2. O-4E says:

    I don’t even see how a federal agency can buy something like a $562K piece of art

    I’m a Brigade S4 and we have to jump through hoops to buy stuff like office chairs..heck even stuff like new computer key boards and mice have to get approved by the G6 before I can purchase them.

  3. Green Thumb says:

    I am so sick of both parties.

    A weak and infective GOP versus a narcissistic administration.

    I am lucky that I am in a position were I am shielded from most of the brunt, but I a am running across more and more folks everyday that are getting hosed.

    If this were any other job, they would be relived for cause or terminated for incompetence.

    This is beyond bad; this is terrible.

  4. Bobo says:

    Having actually been a casuality assistance officer more than once, I can tell you that there is a certain piece of mind that comes to the family knowing that there will be some immediate cash coming to help pay for immediate needs and things like airplane tickets for family members who can help the effected families. At this point, the selective funding should be criminal.

  5. valerie says:

    Wanna bet this stuff has already been covered by a passed, signed funding bill?

    Furlough notices were sent out for 400 thousand covered civilians, too.

  6. PintoNag says:

    Give them time, and they’ll start burying our dead in Afghanistan. It’s a SHUTDOWN, don’t cha know.

    Gotta turn those screws if you want the piggies to squeal.

  7. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    Whether or not the isssue is moot is neither here nor there. I don’t even like the word choice of the bean counter, “We’ve had a number of people die recently….” There are any number of ways to describe the Fallen that any one of us can come up with without a moment’s thought–but what he said isn’t among them. On behalf of all Veterans, and most especially those who have lost loved ones and friends in war and terrorist atacks, Mr. Bobby “Bean Counter” Hale, F***You.

  8. Ex-PH2 says:

    The art purchase was the reason Shinseki was appointed head of the DVA. Put an inept sycophant in charge of a clogged bureaucracy and clog it up even more, but by golly, make sure you decorate your office. Shinseki and Amos are just two people who need to be shitcanned ASAP, two of many.

    EllTee Green Thumb, in regard to firing or dismissing people from their jobs and what is going on now, there is that impeachment clause in the USConstitution. Do not give up yet.

  9. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    @9. The much shorter list is of who doesn’t need to be sent packing. Let’s see, I have NO ONE in the White House, roughly seven members of Congress, and three Supreme Court justices. That’s only 13, give or take. See what I mean?

  10. Ex-PH2 says:

    Loud and Clear, AirCav!

  11. RunPatRun says:

    VA furloughs only started today? From an article: Of the 332,000 total VA employees, fewer than 15,000 are subject to furloughs during lapses in appropriations.

    Totally reeks of politics to me. Just like the barricaded Memorials.

  12. Zedechek says:

    This looks like it is VHA money not VBA money. Not sure how easy it is to move money from one administrations to another. Was this for one hospital or all CBOCs, clinics, and hospitals? If so, that 560K is spread between 23 VISNs. They most likely also had to “use or lose” the money. I have no problem with purchasing art and paintings for VA hospitals and CBOCs to modernize them. Studies have shown that certain types of paintings can speed up the healing process. The wrong kind of art as the opposite effect, which knowing the MENSA members that run the VHA, the wrong kind of art was probably bought. Still, not the best PR when you are talking about possibly holding disability checks if the government is shutdown until late October.

  13. LastBrotherHome says:

    As a Gold Star Sibling, I find the option they have taken with the death gratuity inherently repugnant. Of all the things that they could stop spending of, both parties allow this particular piece of crap to happen. Shameful doesn’t even begin to explain how bad this move is.

  14. rb325th says:

    @12.. VA Health care is not being furloughed because we were forward funded and are not subject to this years appropriations like other agencies. The claims side of VA is furloughing 7,000 personnel today meaning no one is going to be working on claims.

    As to the artwork, aint it wonderful how government budgeting and spending work. Use it or lose it… you can not carry over money into the next fiscal year, and it can not be transferred between agencies either.

  15. Jason says:

    Shinseki is a total asshole.

  16. Old Trooper says:

    When hasn’t this administration shit all over Vets, retirees, and active duty personnel?

    No need to sugar coat this; this administration is deliberate in it’s actions during this “shut down”. Obumbles has acted like a spoiled tyrant and his honest disdain for the military, it’s personnel, and it’s Veterans has been showing through more and more with each passing day. If he can’t use any of us for a photo-op or political tool, he has no use for us, period. He’s a scumbag community organizer that is using those manipulative tricks, from back on the block, against whole sections of the population. He has no respect for anyone or anything, other than his mirror, which he speaks into daily while telling himself how awesome he is.

  17. A Proud Infidel says:

    FUCK Shinseki to death up the ass sideways with a broken baseball bat after he’s been ass-raped by a pit bull with AIDS and the SOB that was mean enough to give it to him!

    What “artwork” did he buy, a giant bronze beret?

  18. NHSparky says:

    But in other news on Drudge, the Congressional gym is still open.

    Our ancestors would have been shooting by now.

  19. O-4E says:


    Good at least Anthony Weiner has someplace to hang out

  20. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    @19. My turn. Our ancestors WERE shooting by now!

  21. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    @17. That about sums it up nicely, I’d say.

  22. Hondo says:

    O-4E: I think you forgot an ” ‘s ” after the letter “y” in comment 20 above.

  23. OWB says:

    There appears to be nothing too loathsome for them. Name calling, while wasteful and without merit, can mostly just be ignored. This? Utterly despicable. Add it to the steaming pile of utterly despicable acts these spoiled children are so carefully crafting.

  24. David says:

    Times said ‘a” piece of art… as in one.

    Admittedly I am naiive and not the brightest candle on the menorrah sometimes, but I have never understood WHY it is bad to ‘lose it’ instead of wasting OUR money on some B.S deal like this if they couldn’t rationally ‘use it.’ We’re supposed to be watching the budget, not spending every dime like a buncha profligately intoxicated mariners.

  25. Flagwaver says:

    Between this and the most recent shutdown, I am really surprised they the administration admits there are actual people in the country and not just serfs. They closed the White House call center and are talking about closing the Congressional Call Center, as well. That means you can no longer contact the President who is supposed to represent you and soon you might not even be able to contact your direct representatives, either.

  26. David says:

    Per Blackfive the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee has contacted Se. Hagel and told him a) the Pay Our Military act was intended to pay all pay and benefits including death benefits and b) if Hagel and the rest of the political generals need more explicit directions, the House would be happy to oblige.

    With any luck action will come quickly… I read this as a thinly veiled “just how badly do you want to piss off people with influence on your next star?”

  27. PintoNag says:

    @26 Truth hurts, and those call centers have been the site of non-stop pain for awhile now. How long did you think these pampered princes and princesses were going to tolerate being told that their sh*t stinks by the commoners?

  28. Ex-PH2 says:

    Someone is stepping up to do what SHOULD be done for deceased vets and their families, as noted here:

    So some things stink, but not nearly as much as the emperor’s lack of costume. I do see chinks in the armor appearing almost hourly, and it’s only Tuesday.

  29. Jabatam says:

    Ex-PH2 you beat me to it