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Courtney Statement on Full Restoration of Critical Services to Connecticut Veterans

October 21, 2013
Press Release

WASHINGTON—As the federal government resumes its regular operations after the House Republican-led government shutdown, Congressman Joe Courtney released the following statement on the Department of Veterans Affairs’ return to normal service:

“The re-opening of the federal government and extension of the debt ceiling have provided the stability the VA needs to continue to provide critical services to Connecticut veterans. Benefit checks will go out on schedule on November 1, and claims processors can get back to work to reduce the backlog that is preventing veterans from receiving the benefits they have earned in a timely manner.

“While critical services, including VA medical facilities, remained up and running during the past few weeks, the shutdown underscores the need to pass a comprehensive budget that frees America’s veterans from the worry that their hard-earned benefits might be interrupted by partisan politics. I will continue to work towards a bipartisan compromise that protects Connecticut veterans and sets our country on the path to growth.”

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs:

·         Throughout the shutdown VA medical facilities were open and operating under normal status.  Nothing has changed with regard to veteran medical services.

·         All VA Regional Offices (VAROs) have re-opened and resumed public contact services.  All phone and online services are fully supported.

·         Benefit checks will go out as scheduled on November 1st, including payments for compensation, pension, education, vocational rehabilitation, and employment.

·         Overtime for claims processors has resumed, and will continue until at least 16 November.  The overall impact on the claims backlog will be determined over the next few weeks.  VA remains committed to the 2015 goal of eliminating the backlog and will work diligently to overcome any set back resulting from the shutdown.

·         The Board of Veterans Appeals has resumed a normal hearing schedule.  Hearings cancelled or postponed because of the shutdown are being rescheduled. 

·         The National Cemetery Administration has resumed normal operations.  Burials and internments will continue on schedule.  General grounds keeping and maintenance has resumed.

Summary of the Continuing Resolution:

·         Provides funding for all VA discretionary accounts at FY 2013 levels until January 15, 2014. 

·         VA medical care accounts are not affected by the CR; because of advance appropriations, these accounts have a FY 2014 budget already in place. 

·         The account that funds VA claims processors will be funded at FY 2014 levels (as requested by the Administration and passed by the House earlier this year), nearly a $300 million increase over FY 2013 levels.

·         VA mandatory accounts will be funded which will ensure that benefit checks go out on time.