Minn. Workers Who Process Veterans’ Benefits Furloughed

Posted at: 10/08/2013 6:19 PM
Updated at: 10/09/2013 7:28 AM
By: Tom Hauser

The federal government shutdown is slowly spreading to Minnesota. 

Dozens of workers who process veterans' benefits were deemed "non-essential" employees Tuesday and furloughed without pay. They received a letter when they walked in and told they had four hours to clean their desk areas, post an e-mail that they are off the job and collect personal items. 

For Jeff Burke it's especially tough because his wife works at the same office and was also furloughed. "We've been working paycheck to paycheck" even before now, Burke says. "I've cut the newspaper service. We're looking to cutting our phone service and just working cell phones. Right now I'm looking for everyway I can cut every bill I can just in case."

Not far from the Whipple Federal Office Building is Fort Snelling National Cemetery. Many anxious families have been calling there worried funerals might get delayed or visiting hours eliminated. However, a spokesman for the Department of Veteran's Affairs says as of Tuesday national cemeteries are "not experiencing any impacts from shutdown of the federal government." 

He did say that could change if the shutdown drags on, but it would mostly impact grass cutting and other maintenance. Cemeteries would remain open for visitors and burials will continue even if most funding is cut off, although the pace of burials might slow down.