WASHINGTON (CBS) -- U.S. veterans are due $6 billion worth of benefits in November; checks that won't go out if the government is shut down.
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, says a third of his employees are veterans themselves, facing a double whammy. He says, "If they are furloughed, and they're also recipients of disability checks, their resources go to zero, and then I have the responsibility of trying to keep them from becoming homeless."
Jerry Lauder lives just outside San Diego and is an Army veteran who served during the Gulf War. He no longer able to work and says he relies on the v-a for everything from food to medical care. Lauder says, "Come the first of November, I'm screwed along with a lot of other veterans out here. When your day to day life depends on what the VA does and what - what our government does for us you know, that means the world to us. People are going to lose their homes - we're all going to be homeless - the groceries stores don't take IOUs for groceries."
VA hospitals and clinics have remained open during the shutdown, but the design and construction of 33 new facilities is on hold. And VA funding for medical research and prosthetics have been reduced or halted.
House Republicans passed a bill last Thursday to fund the VA, but Senate Democrats, who want the whole government reopened, blocked it.
Secretary Shinseki argued that simply funding the VA wouldn't fix his problem, because his agency relies on ten others to help veterans with health care, education, insurance, and housing. He says, "What is best for veterans and for all of us right now is a budget for the entire federal budget - let us get back to work."