Shutdown causes concerns for state's 640,000 veterans

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by ZAHID ARAB / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on October 7, 2013 at 5:24 AM

If the government shutdown extends past October, nearly 640,000 veterans in Washington State risk not getting disability, pension and educational benefits.

“The madness of Washington D.C. is already damaging Washington State,” said Gov. Jay Inslee.

To prevent that, the State’s Office of Veterans Affairs is reserving thousands of dollars in emergency money to help those impacted until Federal aid kicks back in. Officials are teaming with community agencies for this new effort.

“They may have housing or they may have a job for in between or they may have financial assistance,” said Alfie Alvarado-Ramos, Director.

But with limited resources, many fear the possibility of claims pushed back months.  While Alvarado-Ramos’ office hasn’t taken any calls from concerned veterans yet, she predicts the country’s crisis will cause many to not afford their bills.

“We’re doing everything we can do but the till is running dry real quick,” said Gov. Inslee.

“It’s a big concern, absolutely,” said Hugh Devlin, a Gulf War Veteran.

Devlin, 42, served almost four years in the Army and was thinking going back to school until the shutdown happened. He’s hopeful the government can reach a deal before veterans like him are impacted.

“The price of freedom is pretty steep and that comes from veterans,” he said.

Despite the shutdown, Alvarado-Ramos expects medical care, call centers and hotlines for veterans in the state to be unimpacted.

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