The Washington Post

White House meets with vets over debt crisis

Representatives of veterans’ organizations attended a briefing at the White House late Tuesday afternoon but said they received no guarantees that veteran benefits will not be affected in the event the U.S. government defaults on its debt.

“No new information was given concerning the ongoing debt negotiations or what protections veterans and military family programs will receive,” according to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, one of the groups attending the meeting.

However, Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president, told the group that she believes the military will continue to be paid in the event of a default, the VFW said.

White House officials who briefed the group “asked us to let our memberships know what’s at stake,” said Joseph R. Chenelly, who represented the Disabled American Veterans at the meeting. “They said the president understood veterans’ anxiety and regretted it.”

The officials also told the group that a debt plan put forth by House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) “would endanger veterans benefits,” Chenelly said.

Tuesday’s meeting came on the eve of an online protest meant to protect veteran benefits during the debt crisis negotiations. DAV, the nation’s largest group representing disabled veterans and their families, is organizing a “virtual march on Washington” on Facebook for Wednesday.

Thousands of virtual marchers have registered for the online protest, according to the DAV. Though it will take place primarily on Facebook, links to participate will also be available at and on Twitter, using the hashtag #March4Vets, organizers said.

Barry A. Jesinoski, executive director of the DAV’s Washington Headquarters, told the Federal Eye this week that “the uncertainty over what actions our government might take is causing unnecessary and harmful anxiety in the American public at large and veterans and their families specifically.”


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