Veterans worry about impact of ongoing government shutdown

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The U.S. federal government shutdown is hitting very close to home for millions of veterans depending on money for combat-related injuries and support services.

If the shutdown drags on, the Department of Veterans Affairs says they're going to run out of money to fund compensation, pensions, education and rehab programs.

In addition, there could be a delay in processing claims. For veterans relying on this money month-to-month, the thought of it possibly not being there is frightening.

"I never thought in my wildest dreams we'd be talking about whether we'd be getting our compensation taken away or delayed," U.S. Marines veteran Jonathon Stone told FOX19.

Stone enlisted at 18 and planned to make a career out of the Marines Corps. He was in Iraq in the late 90s when he suffered injuries to his feet and ankles. Stone says he also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and wants to work but can't.

The thought of this money possibly not coming is unacceptable.

"It would be devastating. We wouldn't be able to make ends meet. We wouldn't be able to pay our bills.  It's an indispensable part of our budget," he said.

It's that way for millions of veterans, including U.S. Army veteran Buck Clay. Due to injuries like a fractured spine, hearing loss and a traumatic brain injury, he collects injury compensation.

He wanted to make a career out of the military but things have changed. Clay enrolled at the University of Cincinnati and also gets education benefits. These are benefits that he's paid into and says he hasn't seen this month.

"What's going to happen next?  I don't know what's going to happen," he stated. "How am I going to pay the bills?  How am I going to continue going to school?  If I'm not going to be able to afford where I live, how am I going to be able to afford where I go to school?"

Clay helped found a non-profit geared to helping vets with reintegration. It's those same soldiers who expect money they're told will be there when they finally come home.

"You cannot tell these young men and women that we're going to take care of you when you come home and then fail to.  It's extremely disappointing," Clay said.

It's groups like the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) in Cold Spring, KY that help these veterans get through times like this and get what they've fought for.

"Veterans deserve the benefits that they've earned.  We believe that a promise was made to them, and we have to fight to make sure that our nation fulfills that promise," said DAV Director of Communications Dan Clare.

Despite the shutdown, all VA medical facilities and clinics are still fully operational.

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