Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Government Shutdown - What Veterans & Families Need to Know & Can Do (to hopefully not worry so much!)

My phone started buzzing first thing this morning... heroes and families worried (just like our own) about what a shutdown of the government would mean - to their budgets, to the ability to keep food on their table, to their ability to keep the roof over the heads.

While, I will honestly say in my personal and "professional" life in Veteran world, I've always seen DC work something out before our benefits are late... I also always take the stance that the best way to set my own worries aside is to do what I can to prepare (and then go on about my day, week, month knowing I've done all I can).

So, first the latest (I know of... just did a quick news search to see if we had any good news yet before posting ;) )...

Congress is trying to get a bill in place to protect Veteran Benefits and make sure they are paid (on time) throughout the shutdown.  If that happens, we're good to go!

If it doesn't happen, the VA has officially said a shutdown of longer than 2 - 3 weeks could leave them without enough funds to pay Veterans on November 1st.

That's the bad news.

The good news (from the Veteran / family perspective) -

* Social Security Disability will still be paid (separate funding, guaranteed)
* Caregiver Stipends through the Post-9/11 VA Caregiver Program will be paid.
* Those receiving food stamps, etc, will still receive those benefits.

So, if your family also receives any of those benefits, you will still have some income next month.

But, for many, VA disability is what pays the bills, is often the largest portion of the budget... so, what do we do?

Here's what our family is doing:

I'm going to work off of this blog post (http://joelandkitty.com/4o-freezer-meals-in-about-4-hours/) and get some freezer meals stored (noooo possibility of waste since they're freezer meals because I'm assuming the "best"... just prepping in case). Basically 40 meals x $5 = $200. I'm going to buy / prep for half of them (20 meals) out of this month's budget. (My family won't be in love with some of the options, but will still be food).  *SEE THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST FOR MORE LINKS ABOUT STRETCHING A FOOD BUDGET.*

I also know (from past need/experience during our looooong wait for VA benefits) where and how to use our local food bank (good info to have in our world's).

If we have no pay, I will also do the following:

  • Call our mortgage company on the 1st, tell them we've been impacted by the shutdown, ask what can be done.
  • Call our power and water company and explain the same.
  • Call phone company, explain.
  • Pay minimums on Credit Cards this month (no extra), and will call them on the first.
  • Going to try this month to pay our car insurance a month ahead.
  • I will look at VA appts (an hour+ away, and we get paid mileage / travel pay by direct deposit not immediately) and either combine on just a few days or move "non essentials" back a month (to save gas).
  • Making sure this month we also have extra household essentials (pet food, toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc).

Basically, trying to plan out a month without a large chunk of our pay as a "worst case" and see how to minimize the impact here at home. Again *NO PANIC* just thinking through logically now, giving myself a plan, will get it done a bite at a time, and go from there.

According to the VA, the following hotlines will be available throughout the shutdown:

VA National Call Center: 1-800-827-1000.
All VA Medical Facilities and Services: 411.
Coaching into Care Call Center for Family Members of Veterans: 1-888-823-7458.
Debt Management Center: 1-800-827-0648.
Homeless Prevention Line: 1-877-424-3838.
Home Loans: 1-888-244-6711.
Insurance: 1-800-660-8477.
Mammography Helpline: 1-888-492-7844.
Meds by Mail: 1-888-385-0235.
National Caregiver Support Line: 1-855-260-3274.
Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255.
Woman Veterans Call Center: 1-855-VA WOMEN (829-6636).
Federal Service for the Deaf: 711.
Vet Center Combat Call Center: 1-877-WAR-VETS (927-8387).
Discrimination: 1-888-737-3361.
Health Benefits Customer Service: 1-877-222-8387.
CHAMPVA: 1-800-733-8387.
Denver Acquisition and Logistics Center: 1-303-273-6200.
Children of Women Vietnam Veterans Foreign Medical Program: 1-877-345-8179 (or) 1-888-820-1756.

And last (but certainly not least!) here are links submitted by other Veterans & families that are some of their favorites to help with trimming a food budget & finding recipes:

Warrior Chef

New Frugal Mom

Once a Month Meals

Happy Money Saver - 50 Freezer Meals

Pennies & Pancakes

Hillbilly Housewife - $45 Emergency Menu

((HUGS)) to all.  Let's do what we do best... handle what we can, do our best, and keep going.  We've all gotten through harder stuff than this (and hopefully it will be handled anyway before November 1st!).


Brannan Vines
Proud wife of an OIF Veteran
Founder of FamilyOfaVet.com - an organization dedicated to helping heroes and their loved ones survive and thrive after combat with real world info about PTSD, TBI, and Life After Combat!


  1. Thanks. I re-posted this link.

  2. Great post, thank you for the helpful info, I am a caregiver and my husband is the disabled vet,.