The severely backlogged benefits office of the federal VA is about to slow down again. That's because the VA announced its furloughing nearly 10,000 VBA workers including its IT department. U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal issued a statement today in response to the news. He said many of the employees are veterans themselves.
The furloughs will result in the suspension of educational and vocational counseling for veterans, outreach activities, and work to implement an electronic benefits management system—sorely needed in ongoing efforts to address the backlog in veterans’ claims. Processors had been scheduled to work mandatory overtime through November 16 to help reduce the backlog.
Blumenthal said, “This self-inflicted, unnecessary shutdown is causing real harm to real people, including countless veterans who risked their lives in service to our country. In continuing this reckless shutdown, the House GOP is turning its back on brave men and women who have already been subjected to unconscionable delays in receiving critical, hard-earned benefits. This important work should be expedited and prioritized, not held hostage or used as a bargaining chip in disingenuous piecemeal proposals. I am calling on Speaker of the House John Boehner to let the House vote on a clean continuing resolution and to reopen the entire government immediately."
If the shutdown continues into late October, the VA warns that compensation and pension payments to veterans will be halted.