by: Sarah Rosario Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - With the fiscal cliff just 20 days away, veterans are hoping the deal that's made in Washington won't affect them.
They've fought to defend our country and now, some veterans say no one is fighting for them.
Vietnam vet Ernest Allis has volunteered with the VFW for 12 years. He's the state senior vice commander and has been lobbying for veterans for quite some time.
"They promised us that even if the fiscal cliff is a problem, if they had to make a lot of cuts, they would protect our benefits," said Allis.
Allis said that's what leaders in Washington told him and a group of other veterans who went there in March to make sure veteran programs didn't get axed. The White House has said the VA's budget for programs won't be cut, but now that's its getting close to crunch time some veterans fear those promises might be broken.
One department the White House said will face the chopping block is the Department of Defense. They provide services that many active military members and veterans rely on. VFW State Membership Chairman Jack Campbell said he's worried most about changes to personnel. He brings veterans who come to the VFW to the VA clinic every week. He too is a Vietnam vet, so it's an issue near and dear to his heart.
"We're worried most about the staff because right now, they're overworked,” he said.
If Congress fails to come to an agreement, many veterans are concerned there will be changes to their retirement plans, increased healthcare premiums and tougher requirements for coverage for existing conditions developed during time at war. After sacrificing for our country, veterans say making them sacrifice now when they need benefits the most is unacceptable.
"When that contract is signed, America signs a contract with you, and when you get out that contract is expected to be kept," Allis said.