As we enter week two of the government shutdown, the negative consequences are mounting for service members, their families, and the military. Troops’ pay still hasn’t been resolved, Families of deceased soldiers are not receiving death benefits on time, and according to the VA, funds for veteran’s claims and other services are drying up fast.
Here are the 10 biggest ways our military is being hurt by the shutdown:
The Pay Our Military Act promises pay to active service members but with over 60 categories of “Incentive Pay” not covered by the act, it is uncertain precisely what that entails. For instance, it remains unclear whether the 54,000 troops currently in Afghanistan will receive their additional combat pay of $225 per month when their next check arrives on October 15th.
Death benefits delayed
Military families seeking to bury a deceased veteran will see burials and other death benefits delayed. Until the shutdown ends, none of the affected families can expect to receive the “death gratuity” of $100,000 promised to immediately reach them within 24 to 36 hours of notification about the loss of their spouse or relative.
Reserve forces unit training has been canceled across the country. Even the active duty Army may begin to see it’s operational readiness imperiled if the shutdown is prolonged and training is called off for lack of funds to purchase basics like gas and ammunition.
No Money For Supplies
Funding appropriations for supplies for normal operations, including fuel, have been halted. According to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, though acquisition, contracts and logistics personnel returned to work at the beginning of the week, they can’t buy supplies because the DOD does not have an appropriations bill.
Veterans’ claims backlogged is building
Around 419,000 overdue Veterans claims are sitting in the Veterans Affairs Department as of Monday—a small increase over the past week. The VA warns that prolonging the shutdown will set the department back from its goal of being able to process all claims within 125 days with 98 percent accuracy by the end of 2015. The VA’s claim that it lacks money to pay veterans benefits but the agency could afford to buy a half million dollars worth of art that was recently purchased in a spend it or lose it moment just before the end of the fiscal year.
Federal contractors lose months of work
The shutdown spells lost work and pay for hundreds of federal contractors employed by the Defense Department. These contractors do a range of work from manufacturing to cybersecurity for military operations.
College tuition assistance on hold
Veterans heading back to school could see their tuition funds delayed for weeks as VA offices remain short-staffed.
The closure of all commissaries on military bases in America has service members and military retirees, many of whom live on modest incomes, spending roughly 30% more on their food bills.
Regional Veterans Services offices shuttered
While Department of Defense employees head back to work this week, 56 VSOs have closed as of Tuesday, sending home 7,000 VA employees. VSOs are common access points for veterans to begin the veteran claims filing process with the help of voluntary officers.
Defense department furloughs remain
According to Chuck Hagel, although 90 percent of Defense Department employees have returned to their posts, employees involved in legislative affairs, audits, and public affairs will have to continue their unpaid furlough until further notice.