Nearly 315,000 of those veterans served during wartime and some are too disabled to work or are senior citizens and have limited income.
These former military service members were given a promise and they rely on their VA benefits for daily living.
For thousands of veterans with disabilities, a delay in VA benefits is not just about income—it's about outcomes: the difference between getting out of bed, dressing, eating and showering or not being able to do those things.
These veterans share the same financial concerns as most other Americans: paying rent, buying food, sustaining a family, etc. But for those with severe disabilities, such as spinal cord injury, amputations or traumatic brain injury, living normally comes at a cost. And for many, that cost is the monthly expense of having an attendant come into their homes for the purpose of assisting them with the activities of daily living, such as getting out of bed, dressing, eating, showering, tending to Mother Nature, etc.
For those relying on VA compensation or pension payments to cover these necessary expenses, these benefits are not about money—they're about life and wellness.
Many of these veterans would not have such need but for their combat service. According to a February 2013 Congressional Research Report, over 50,450 service members were wounded in action during Operations Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn, including 1,493 suffering major amputations and 6,476 incurring a severe TBI. Of the 10,979 combat casualties that were evacuated, more than 598 were for spinal injuries by the end of 2009. Taken from the abstract, every individual behind these statistics suffered profound loss, in the form of a limb or function or mental cognition; losses that would ideally be mitigated by access to resources. These men and women will now face challenges presented by a new loss—diminished quality of life, as the government shutdown looms.
However, veterans and veteran advocates across the country know all too well that victory in overcoming a challenge requires strength in numbers, which is why Paralyzed Veterans of America stands behind efforts such as The Military Coalition’s rally today in Washington D.C. These and similar demonstrations of unity should remind our elected representatives that political leveraging at the expense of those who've sacrificed for the Nation is UNACCEPTABLE, and the voices of unrest will be loudly heard until the country and its government demonstrate a commitment to keeping its promise to those who served.
It is unconscionable that Congress decided to shut down the entire federal government, and harm access to needed services by veterans, over unrelated policy differences.
About Paralyzed Veterans of America:
Paralyzed Veterans of America was founded by a group of seriously injured American heroes from the "Greatest Generation" of World War II. They created a nonprofit organization to meet the challenges that they faced back in the 1940s—from a medical community not ready to treat them to an inaccessible world. For more than 67 years, Paralyzed Veterans’ national office and its 34 chapters across the nation have been making America a better place for all veterans and people with disabilities. (www.pva.org)