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.