Shutdown impact on military - New York News

Shutdown impact on military

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A government shutdown is having far-reaching consequences for some.

MILITARY

The military's 1.4 million active duty personnel remain on duty. About half of the Defense Department's civilian employees were furloughed, but Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered nearly all 350,000 back on the job. The shutdown created a ripple effect with some defense contractors. Lockheed Martin said Monday that it was furloughing about 2,400 workers. Top defense officials noted that critical programs and benefits that remain halted. For example, the department does not currently have the authority to pay death gratuities for the survivors of service members killed in action - typically a cash payment of $100,000 paid within three days of the death of a service member.

VETERANS SERVICES

Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs continue because lawmakers approved money one year in advance for the VA's health programs. Veterans are still visiting hospitals for inpatient care and getting mental health counseling at vet centers at outpatient clinics. Operators are also staffing the crisis hotline, but regional offices are not taking calls.

The VA continues to process payments providing veterans compensation for disabilities and pensions. However, claims processors are no longer being required to work 20 hours of overtime per month, which VA officials say is stalling progress in reducing the disability claims backlog, which stood at 418,500 at the end of September. It has since risen by about 200.

The VA said that nearly 10,000 workers within the Veterans Benefits Administration and within the VA's Office of Information Technology were being furloughed on Monday and Tuesday. Access to all regional offices will be suspended as a result.

If the shutdown continues into late October, the VA warns that compensation and pension payments to veterans will be halted.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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