VA benefits may be stopped if government shutdown persists

TULSA - If the government shutdown continues, it may impact thousands of Oklahoma veterans.

Eric Shinseki, the U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary, told the House VA Committee Wednesday that most benefits --  including disability, pension and education claims -- owed to millions of veterans will not be paid if the shutdown continues through October.

Oklahoma is home to 340,000 veterans, many of whom rely on these payments, including Vietnam veteran Caldwell O'Keefe.

"There are millions of veterans that depend on their benefits," he said. "The reason we have these benefits is we can't live without them.

O'Keefe is confident Congress will reach a deal on the budget, thus ending the shutdown, but he hopes it is sooner rather than later. "Pass the budget, a clean budget and get back to the business of the people," he said.

Wednesday's announcement comes two days after the Muskogee Veterans Affairs Regional Office closed due to the shutdown.

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