Why A Prolonged Government Shutdown Could Spell Real Trouble For Vets

As lawmakers in Washington are still struggling to resolve the partial government shutdown, many Houston veterans are very concerned. If the shutdown isn't resolved in two weeks, many vets will lose benefits that they desperately depend on.

As a single mother of two little boys, Liz Lotterhos has enough stresses to deal with as it is.

She’s also been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq with the Air Force. And because of that, she’s been unable to work for a while now.

“You know, just every morning of getting myself ready, getting my kids ready, doing what needs to be done around the house. Those things are difficult for me, you know? Which a lot of people might not understand, but it’s part of it. So it’s practice, it’s learning how to readjust my way of thinking and get used to being a civilian.”

As part of her transition back into the workforce, Lotterhos has been volunteering for the Lone Star Veterans Association here in Houston. She depends on disability payments to feed her kids and pay her bills. But if the government shutdown isn’t resolved by Nov. 1, disabled veterans like Lotterhos will stop receiving benefits.

John Kessler, executive director of the Lone Star Veterans Association

John Kessler is the executive director of the Lone Star Veterans Association, a nonprofit that helps new veterans transition back into civilian life.

“They’ve currently funded the veterans and the veterans’ programs, from what I understand, through the whole month of October but they have not done so from November forward. So what will happen is, if they don’t fund it — the programs, primarily with veterans disability and the GI Bill – what will happen is, these programs will no longer be executed.”

This would also mean college students whose tuition is paid through the GI Bill will be stuck with their fees for the remainder of the shutdown. And retired vets wouldn’t receive their pensions.

For Liz Lotterhos, an interruption of her monthly disability check would be a major problem.

“If I don’t get paid for that one month, how do I pay the mortgage? How do I pay the car note? How do I buy food? How do I keep the lights on? How do I buy gas to get to the grocery store. So right now there’s a lot of fear. There is a lot of fear. And anger and confusion too, you know. I’m not quite understanding why.”

John Kessler says the Lone Star Veterans Association is working with employers, universities and the Houston branch of the Department of Veterans Affairs to prepare for the possibility of the shutdown extending past November first.

Liz Lotterhos doesn’t have many options for that eventuality. She says she doesn’t have any savings and she’s already using all her money to cover only basic needs.

“I think the small things – like food – I’m sure my family will help me out with food, but they don’t have a whole lot of money either. So they can’t pay my mortgage. They can’t pay my car payment …”

She says politicians in Washington should understand that their inability to come to an agreement is hurting real people.


Florian Martin

Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter.Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters and the Houston Press Club.Florian is a native of Germany. His studies in Leipzig...

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