As the partial government shutdown continues for a third week, veterans groups are sounding the alarm because of what they say is the disproportionate impact on America’s veterans and a growing fear that financial uncertainty could lead to self-harm.
An estimated one-third of the federal workforce is made up of veterans, according to the Office of Personnel Management, meaning that more than 250,000 veterans are not currently receiving paychecks.
“This shutdown has consequences that go beyond loss of pay,” the Union Veterans Council said in a statement this week. “Financial instability is one of the main cause of suicides among the veterans’ community. These hard-working men and women who sacrificed so much for their country should not have their families held hostage by lawmakers that cannot relate to living paycheck to paycheck.”
Edward M. Canales is a local union president with the American Federation of Government Employees and a veteran liaison officer who serves as a resource to veterans working in the U.S. Bureau of Prisons west of the Mississippi River.
He told ABC News that he’s received numerous calls from veterans who aren’t able to support their families during the shutdown and express “no positive outlook on the future.”
“If this shutdown does not stop, we are going to have fatalities. We’re going to have suicides,” he said.