VA chief: Shutdown could hit millions of vets

WASHINGTON (AP) - If the partial government shutdown continues into late October, America's veterans will feel the impact. That message was delivered to Congress today by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

He told a House panel that about 3.8 million veterans won't receive disability compensation next month if the shutdown lasts another couple of weeks.

In all, more than $6 billion in payments to more than five million beneficiaries would be halted during an extended shutdown.

In some areas, like health care delivery, there have been few adverse effects. In others, such as reducing the backlog of disability claims, the impact is clearer. Shinseki noted that the backlog has increased by 2,000 since the shutdown began.

The Republican chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs said he called the hearing to make sure veterans knew the effect of the shutdown. And he questioned whether the Obama administration had been forthcoming enough with the details. Jeff Miller said the first guidance that was put out by Veterans Affairs officials didn't mention any impact on payments to veterans or the processing of their benefits.

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