Federal workers, vets protest government shutdown

by: Tenikka Smith Updated:

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SALISBURY, N.C. —

Veterans and federal workers in Salisbury spent hours protesting the government shutdown Friday.

Members from the American Federation of Government Employees Union and veterans stood across the street from the veteran's hospital protesting the congressional stalemate threatening jobs and livelihoods.

Local Union President Essie Hogue said, "We want to work and we're being told we can't work and we're being used as pawns between Congress. They need to do what they were elected to do go to work and pass a budget."

The shutdown won't affect funding for VA hospitals, but some Veteran’s Affairs workers face furloughs.  IT staff and national cemetery workers in Salisbury have already been put on notice that they will be sent home or forced to work without pay.

The VA is keeping claims processors on the job, but the agency said if the shutdown lasts at least a month, funding for disability and pension checks will run out by the end of October

Army veteran Curtis Jennings said he and his service dog Dorothy will be evicted from his apartment next month if he doesn't get his check. 

He gets disability payments after being injured in combat in Iraq. 

"They're pretty much makings us feel like pawns for their political party and make us what they want us to be instead of what we are, humans just trying to get by," Jennings said.

As the debate in Washington continues, Hogue said she will continue to stand in support of veterans like Jennings and everyone affected by the shutdown.

"I'm standing for the whole the United States because I am an American. I believe in the American way and that is being stolen from us, we are being held hostage now," she said.

There are also concerns that a long term shutdown will lead to even more backlog with processing claims at the Department of Veteran's Affairs.

For complete coverage on the government shutdown, click here.

For complete coverage on the Affordable Care Act, click here.