NAPLES, Fla - In a matter of day, millions of brave war vets could be out of luck because of our spending crisis. The Department of Veterans Affairs says the agency may have to stop paying out benefits; something most Vets rely on to survive.
WINK News has been following this growing problem since the shutdown started last week. Local heroes are now saying they never expected things to get this bad so quickly.
Staff Sergeant Wilfredo Vasquez says he's worried about the increasing trend of more Veterans becoming homeless.
"This is another young veteran, another marine who is going to be evicted on Sunday and he's still waiting for approval," says SSG Vasquez.
It's a problem, Vasquez fears, will only get worse because of our ongoing shutdown. "For Veterans who have already served and poured out their hearts, blood and sweat into protecting the interest of this country are now suffering because of a few in Washington D.C."
Because of the shutdown, 10,000 employees at the VA are furloughed. That means the agency says new claims won't be processed until next year. "That affects the Veterans, the spouses, their children, their dependents it goes across the board for everybody," says Vasquez.
The shutdown could also impact millions of Veterans and their families who currently get a benefits check every month. The harsh reality is if this shutdown lasts into late October, Vets won't receive their money next month.
"The VA compensation and the military retirement checks, they come in at the same time at the beginning of the month and if they don't come in, I'm going to be in a world of hurt," says Vasquez. "The bills still have to be paid, the electricity, the water, so i'm getting a little concerned."
In an effort to help the growing trend of homeless vets in our area, Vasquez is teaming up with a local restaurant to organize a golf outing and benefit dinner later this month at Cirella's in Bonita Springs.
All proceeds raised will go Homes for American Heroes. The charity provides homes for homeless vets and their families. The owner of Cirella's says he saw the need and wanted to help. "I figured its the least I could do to thank our service men and service women for doing what they're doing. It's the least I can do," says Michael Cirella.
The golf outing and dinner is $100 a person. More more information about Homes for American Heroes you can go to www.hfah.org or call George Median at 954-806-6949. For more information on the benefit dinner you can call 239-465-9693.