Shutdown Impact On VA Regional Office Has Veterans Concerned

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WACO (October 3, 2013)—Depending on how long the partial federal government shutdown drags on, hundreds of employees of the VA Regional Office in Waco could face furloughs, and that has some of the hundreds of thousands of military veterans in the area the office serves worried.

The shutdown has not affected VA medical facilities, but funds for claims processing at the regional office will run out before the end of the month if the shutdown continues.

"We can confirm that VA has funds available for claims processing activities at the Waco RO (and other ROs) to continue through late October 2013, for VA disability compensation and pension, and for vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits,” VA Regional Office spokesman Tom Morley said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

“Also, salary payments will be issued on time next week, for all employees of the Waco RO,” he said.

Employees of the office have been working, some on mandatory overtime, to reduce a 50,000-case backlog and a shutdown could threaten the progress they’ve made.

McLennan County Veterans Service Officer Steve Hernandez said that concerns the office may close down are making some area veterans anxious.

“The fact that they've had claims that have been prolonged and backlogged and now the realization that through no fault of their own--really through no fault of the VA system--that all of a sudden now they are going to have have to wait even longer,” he said.