Disabled veterans among those hoping for budget agreement in DC

Disabled veterans are feeling the effects of the government shutdown. (Image: Sinclair Broadcast Group)

Rochester, N.Y. (13WHAM) - David Bartello is a disabled Marine veteran who's family heavily relies on his monthly veterans benefits check. Even though the federal government's shutdown is less than 24 hours old, he's already budgeting for the future.

Veterans benefits are among the areas impacted by the shutdown.

"It's basically our livelihood," said Bartello. "They pay the mortgage, the electric, the heating bill, the truck, groceries for the kids, I depend on that."

Nick Stefanovic, the director of the Monroe County Veterans Service Agency, says he's been closely watching budget negotiations.

He says veterans payments in February are set to go out, and they don't have to worry unless the shutdown lasts several weeks.

"The shutdown has never lasted that long, so the hope is this thing will be over before we even have to think about what that could bring," said Stefanovic.

Some lawmakers in Washington have acknowledged the concern.

Congressman Chris Collins, Republican for New York's 27th District, asked for his paycheck to be held "until the brave men and women of our military can get theirs."

In reasoning for a budget deal, Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, a Democrat representing the state's 25th District said shutdown in 2013 resulted in fewer veteran's disability claims being processed.

"To the majority, I say this with all of my heart. work with us for the good of the country, let us end this shutdown before Monday," said Slaughter.

Until a resolution is found among Republicans and Democrats, people like David Bartello are left wondering what might become of his benefits.

"If we can get through February we're fine, if it goes into March, then we're worried," said Bartello.

Until a deal is reached, Stefanovic says he'll be keeping Monroe County veterans updated on the status of their benefits, reiterating there's currently no reason for concern with those benefits.

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