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Blumenthal Highlights Impact Of Government Shutdown On Connecticut Veterans

Senator Shares Story Of Veteran Who Waited Two Years To Receive Disability Benefits, And Is Now At Risk Of Waiting Again

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) highlighted in a Senate floor speech the impact of the government shutdown on Jordan Massa, a U.S. Army veteran from Rocky Hill who waited two years to receive disability benefits for injuries he sustained from an IED explosion while serving in Iraq. Massa secured disability benefits on October 1, but is now at risk of waiting for his benefits again due to the government shutdown. A video of Blumenthal’s floor speech is here, and an excerpt of his remarks is below:

“Yesterday, Madam President, the Veterans Affairs Administration announced that it would furlough 7,000 Veterans Benefit Administration Employees, and that activities and services in the following areas would be suspended: the education call center, personal interviews and hearings at regional hearings, educational and vocational counseling, outreach programs, including at military facilities, and the Vet Success Program on campus.

“But this announcement is only the beginning of the contraction in the services and activities of the VA. In fact, the VA also announced that at the end of the month, it will run out of funding for compensation, pension, educational and vocational rehabilitation and employment benefits. What does that mean to America? What are the consequences of the VA saying this shutdown means we are shutting our doors to processing and paying claims of men and women who have served this country, who have been disabled as a consequence of that service, who have earned educational benefits so that they can come back and continue to contribute to this country?

“What that means to America is that we are, in effect, defaulting and failing on a core obligation this country has to men and women who serve and sacrifice. America is failing to keep faith with its veterans and America is failing on one of its most essential obligations. We ought to be ashamed and embarrassed that 7,000 men and women who want nothing more than to help their fellow veterans – in fact, half of those 7,000 men and women at the VA are themselves veterans – have been told, ‘go home.’ And, in fact, at the end of the month, the benefits and pensions and educational benefits that are received by veterans will have to be suspended because the VA is running out of money.

“Right now it is, in effect, continuing on the leftover money that will last only through the end of this month. I spoke this morning to a veteran named Jordan Massa, a native of Rocky Hill, who served for six years in the United States Army as an infantryman, including two tours in Iraq. Jordan Massa was injured in an IED explosion, a roadside bomb that left him severely disabled with ear and back wounds as well as post-traumatic stress. And Jordan Massa waited for two years after he applied for the benefits that he needs and deserves. He waited for two years until October 1, just days ago, when he heard the good news that he would be receiving the disability benefits to which he is entitled. Not as an act of charity or beneficence. He is entitled to those disability benefits. And now Jordan Massa is on the verge of being denied the benefits that he needs and deserves because of this shutdown. A Connecticut native, awarded the Purple Heart, who has been a student at Tunxis and has sought to help other veterans as a counselor, giving back to this country even after his service in uniform.”

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