Millions of veterans and their families depend on disability paychecks to make ends meet but because of the government shutdown those checks might soon disappear.
On Friday, Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said if the government shutdown lasts until November 1 benefit checks will not go out to about 3.8 million veterans.
The benefits claims backlog has already jumped by 2,000 in the first full week of the shutdown and the VA says the problem will only worsen.
Ryan Lamke is one of those veterans; he came home from Iraq in 2008 after suffering seven IED attacks. He was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder. He went on to graduate from college but has been unemployed for five months with the checks from the VA his only source of income.
"If the shutdown goes past October 15th, the VA has said that they will be unable to process payments for the month of November, when most of my bills come due," Lamke said. I go broke. I go broke. It's really that simple. I enter into a level of poverty at that point."
In addition to disability benefits stopping for veterans on Nov. 1, pension payments will also stop for almost 315,000 low-income veterans. And, with the Department of Veterans Affairs regional offices around the country closing, more than 7,000 VA employees have been placed on furlough.
Interestingly enough, a call to the VA Friday to get answers on how many veterans will be affected by the disability checks stopping was transferred to voicemail.
The media relations person for the VA is on furlough.