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Government Shutdown Puts Pressure On Oklahoma's Disabled Veterans

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If there is a prolonged government shutdown lasting more than two or three weeks, the Department of Veterans' Affairs may not have enough money to pay disability claims and pension payments. That could affect some 3.6 million veterans. If there is a prolonged government shutdown lasting more than two or three weeks, the Department of Veterans' Affairs may not have enough money to pay disability claims and pension payments. That could affect some 3.6 million veterans.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

As the arguing in Washington continues to stall the government, disabled veterans here in Oklahoma are bracing for a hold on their benefits.

If there is a prolonged government shutdown lasting more than two or three weeks, the Department of Veterans' Affairs may not have enough money to pay disability claims and pension payments. That could affect some 3.6 million veterans. 

Disabled veteran Lee Maples receives monthly benefits from veterans' affairs to support his wife and 12-year-old daughter. News of the government shutdown suddenly has vets worried about their financial stability. 

"I'm sitting at the maximum allowance at 100 percent, which I believe is $2,349 a month. That's for me, my wife and my daughter," said disabled veteran, Lee Maples.

Lee's wife is his sole caretaker. It's also her full time job. Maples was injured while refueling a plane, and now has neurological issues as a result of the accident.

"And it started like a rocket, and it lifted me off the ladder," said Maples.

He had to have more than a gallon of jet fuel pumped out of his stomach. But unlike some, Lee remains positive about his family's future.  

"We would survive, and we understand this because we have each other," said Maples.

Lee says he's more worried about his fellow veterans who were financially strapped before the government shutdown. He himself had to file for bankruptcy after he retired from the Air Force in January.

"Coming out of the military, there is no transition," said Maples. "I didn't get a transition to being a civilian after living in Japan for 14 years."

Despite the government shutdown, VA Medical Centers, clinics and other health services across the country will not close. Those services have advance appropriations through at least 2014.

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