Nightly News   |  October 10, 2013

Veterans fear for their future as VA runs out of cash

Across the country, veterans who rely on military pensions and disability payments are angry about the shutdown, and scared about what could happen next. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reports

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> 36. as for the shutdown and the outrage over the interruption of death benefits to the families of u.s. service members killed in the line of duty, the senate followed the house today voting to resume paying benefits to the families of 29 americans killed since the shutdown began. a charity has stepped in for now. if ploeb -- president obama signs the bill, the government will be able to make the payments again. these are tense days for a lot of former military families. andrea mitchell has more on that tonight from our d.c. newsroom. andrea, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. that's because that fix does not end the potential nightmare for millions of veterans who depend on monthly military pensions. the veterans administration is running out of cash. near ft. bragg in north carolina , theresa depends on her monthly survivors benefits. her husband john was an apache pilot killed when his helicopter crashed in iraq in 2006 .

>> i'm a single mom now. been raising my kids alone for six years. i'm in college. i need that income. it pays my electric bill, my phone bills, my food bill. people don't understand. we rely on something we were told we were going to receive. now they have reneged on it.

>> reporter: from coast to the coast, veterans who rely on military pensions and disability payments are angry about the shutdown and scared of oh what could happen next. 30-year-old joe smith was an e-4 in the air force .

>> we made a deal. you said you would do xyz, i said i would accomplish xyz. it was done. paperwork documented saying i did it. where are you at?

>> reporter: at an american legion post in california bob mclaughlin says for many families the military pension is a lifeline.

>> there are veterans out there that you miss one check and within a week there is a shortage of food on the table.

>> reporter: the veterans administration has closed 56 regional offices, furloughing officers. if the shutdown continues for three more weeks, almost all 13,000 workers will be furloughed, stopping $6 billion in monthly checks to nearly 5.2 million veterans including the severely disabled and those with low income .

>> our message is simple. do your job and take care of us. when we were asked to do our job after 9/11 we did it. we held up our end of the bargain. the u.s. government is not.

>> reporter: in washington the blame game continues.

>> you went out of your way at every possible turn to make it as ugly as possible.

>> i resent your remarks. let the record show that.

>> reporter: you can bet the public outrage over the one-time death benefits, until they were restored, is just a hint of how angry people will be if more than 5 million veterans end up losing their checks. brian?

>> andrea mitchell in our d.c. newsroom tonight. andrea, thanks.