Frustrated by an interruption of essential veterans services during the recent unnecessary federal government shutdown, U.S. Senator Mark Begich joined a coalition of major veterans service organizations and a bipartisan group of lawmakers at a news conference today to call for the swift passage of legislation to guarantee advance funding for all Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) programs.
"There is simply no excuse for letting political shenanigans get in the way of delivering critical services to our veterans," said Sen. Begich. "As a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, I want to ensure we follow through on our commitment to those who have served our country. I will continue to fight so that the funding and services our veterans need and deserve is available -- unconditionally."
During the recent partial government shutdown, veterans saw many essential services closed or scaled back, including claims processing for disability compensation, vocational rehabilitation services and even burials at national cemeteries. In addition, had the shutdown continued for just a couple more weeks, more than 4 million veterans nationwide might have seen their disability compensation, pension or GI Bill payments cut off completely, which for many, is their primary or only source of income.
Currently, VA's medical care programs receive advance appropriations, allowing VA hospitals and clinics to provide uninterrupted health care to veterans. Legislation is pending in the House (H.R. 813) and Senate (S. 932) to extend advance appropriations to all VA discretionary programs.
With over 77,000 veterans living in Alaska, the state has the highest ratio of veterans per capita in the U.S. at 17 percent.
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