Almost immediately after congressional Republicans shut down the federal government last week, GOP lawmakers seized on a memorial for World War II veterans as a key political touchstone -- the right was outraged that their shutdown had closed a memorial they liked.
There are, however, some other veterans who would also benefit from political attention.
Rachel noted on the show last night, for example, that the Department of Veterans Affairs is going to have to close veterans regional offices and furlough thousands of employees. The department added unless the shutdown ends soon, we'll also see delays of the next round of benefits payments, including disability compensation, G.I. bill living stipends, dependency and indemnity compensation for veterans and their families.
NBC's Eun Kyung Kim shone a spotlight on the problem this morning.
The shutdown of the federal government is now affecting some families when they are most vulnerable, denying them a $100,000 benefit to help with funeral expenses of loved ones killed while serving the country.The families of five U.S. service members who died over the weekend in Afghanistan have been notified that they won't be receiving the "death gratuity" normally wired to relatives within 36 hours. The benefit is intended to help cover funeral costs and help with immediate living expenses until survivor benefits typically begin.The money also helps cover costs to fly families to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to witness the return of their loved ones in flag-draped coffins.
Shannon Collins, who lost her son just this past weekend in Afghanistan, said, "The government is hurting the wrong people. Families shouldn't have to worry about how they're going to bury their child. Families shouldn't have to worry about how they're going to feed their family if they don't go to work this week."
The sooner the shutdown this ends, the sooner this outrage ends.