Shutdown uncertainty has Marine on edge
BY DENISE CROSBY firstname.lastname@example.org October 2, 2013 5:08PM
Statement from the VA
The Veteran’s Administration strongly believes that a lapse in appropriations should not occur and Congress should act to fund critical Government operations.
During a shutdown, VA medical centers, clinics and other health services have advance appropriations for 2014 and will remain open.
VA has funds available to ensure claims processing and payments in the compensation, pension, education, and vocational rehabilitation programs will continue through late October. However, in the event of a prolonged shutdown, claims processing and payments in these programs will be suspended when funds are exhausted. Due to the shutdown, Veterans benefits Administration will not be able to continue overtime for claims processors.
Regarding the National Cemetery Administration: interments will continue, but may be on a reduced schedule.
To find the appropriations lapse plan and the updated field guide, visit www.va.gov or http://www.va.gov/opa/appropriations_lapse_plan.asp
Updated: November 5, 2013 6:15AM
As a former U.S. Marine corporal, William Bowman was trained to always be in control of situations that put him or those close to him at risk.
But his own country, he says, has propelled him in a state of uncertainty, thanks to the politicians in Washington who “were elected to do what needed to be done to keep this country strong.”
Bowman, a Naperville Central graduate who now lives with his wife in Aurora, admits he has no idea how the government shutdown will affect his future at this point. But it’s that limbo which is so unsettling. The 30-year-old former infantryman works part-time as a private investigator with Illinois Investigative Solutions; and is also going to school at College of DuPage, with plans to study anthropology at the University of Chicago.
Bowman says he depends on the GI Bill, which goes toward his housing, to keep him afloat. And even though the October payment went into his account at midnight Oct. 1, he has no idea if there will be a November check.
“I don’t know what move to make next,” he said. “If I drop my classes to pick up more hours from work, I will have to pay back that money that was already spent (on tuition and books).”
Bowman called Veterans Services at COD but no one there could give him any answers. “And that really angered me; not just because of my situation, but I have a lot of friends who are still in the military. These are people who risked so much and now these politicians are putting them at risk again.”
COD’s Veterans Services confirmed that many calls are coming in daily to its office as the shut-down appeared imminent. “We don’t know what to tell them, because we don’t know what the answers are either,” said spokesman Kevin Xu. “The VA (Veterans Affairs) is responsible for making the payments but even they don’t know how this will play out.”
It may not be as dire as some fear. State Rep. Stephanie Kifowit of Aurora was on the GI Bill at Northern Illinois University during the last government shutdown 17 years ago. Because she was so focused “on being a student” and “transitioning to civilian life,” she barely remembers the shutdown.
“I was working part time and relying on the GI Bill to help pay expenses,” she said. “And I don’t recall any struggles with bills.”
But this is a different administration, she added. And certainly “it has to be very stressful not knowing what is going to happen.”
Bowman admits it’s the uncertainty as much as anything causing this angst. What makes this so disheartening, he added, is that this shutdown is over an already-passed healthcare law that “is not important enough to risk the well-being of this country.”
Like many Americans, he blames Republicans and Democrats equally.
“I was raised to be proud of this country,” said Bowman, whose father Robert is a disabled Vietnam War veteran; whose grandfather Elmer served in World War II and whose brother Benjamin, a Lisle police officer, served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Both parties “are behaving like children,” said Bowman. “And their stubbornness “is affecting the people they are supposed to be serving.”