Government shutdown worries veterans

Posted at 10:36 PM, Oct 15, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-16 00:36:16-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The end of the government shutdown doesn’t appear to be in sight as congress did not reach any deals on Tuesday.

That has veterans and their families worried about their benefits. There are more than 30,000 veterans in Utah alone.

Veterans are supposed to get their checks Nov. 1; those are not in jeopardy right now.

But if Congress continues at this pace, they’re worried that their benefits may be the next casualty of the shutdown.

Like so many other veterans, Elmer Lobato, a Vietnam veteran with the U.S. Army, is upset over the government shutdown.

Lobato suffers from the long-term effects of Agent Orange and malaria. He said he’s getting the medical attention he needs at the VA Hospital, but he’s worried that if the shutdown continues families won’t get the checks and benefits they need to survive.

“It’s crucial for these families right now, to get benefits,  and you know, is our government going to pay, the benefits of what it’s going to be? They put these people in a corner,” Lobato said.

Veteran Dan Curtis is also upset over the government shutdown for several reasons.

Not only is he worried about veterans’ benefits, Curtis is also concerned about is job and the continuation of Honor Flight.

Honor Flight is a program that takes veterans to Washington D.C. to see the memorials built in their honor.  But when the next flight takes off at the end of October, he doesn’t know if they’ll be able to visit all the sights, which have been forced to close until the shutdown is resolved.

“Without going to Arlington cemetery, without going to the Iowa Jima memorial, this could be a very lackluster trip considering what they did for this country,” Curtis said.

There are about 9,000 WWII veterans in Utah.

Curtis wants to make sure that every one of them who gave so much isn’t forgotten.

“We’re limited by laws and regulations when these guys bled and sweat and literally left dead ones all over this planet for these freedoms,” Curtis said. “And we can’t give it back to them, just a trip? Let them see what they did for us? Something’s not right there.”