Federal Shutdown “Shouldn’t Affect” Local Veterans Service Office

With the shutdown of the federal government now a reality due to failure of Congress to reach an agreement to fund federal agencies, a vast majority of federal programs are now in limbo. If the shutdown continues for an extended period, veterans’ compensation, pension, education and other benefits could be cut off, and call centers, hotlines and regional offices that help veterans understand their benefits have already closed to the public.

However, at the local level, the Veterans Service Office in Starke County is still up and running, according to Veterans Service Officer Terry Turner. He explained the shutdown shouldn’t affect his office but it could have an impact down the road if the shutdown continues. While he is still able to provide assistance to veterans seeking information, he said he is still feeling the impact from the government shutdown due to the closure of the Veterans Administration archives. He said the inability to contact the archives prevents him from finding records of service for veterans who come to his office looking for assistance.

Further, Turner said veterans are unable to file disability claims due to the affiliated federal office being closed. While the local Veterans Service Office can help get the paperwork together and submit the claim, he said it won’t be approved or even reviewed until the shutdown comes to an end.

Other than that, Turner said the office is still in working order because the funding comes from the county. He said if the shutdown continues through the middle of the month, it could cause problems down the road, and we’ll just have to wait and see whether Congress can compromise and reach an agreement to get federal agencies funded and reopened.