VA Regional Office in Muskogee closed to public

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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 10/07/2013 5:23 pm Published: 10/07/2013 4:17 pm

More people in Green Country are starting to feel the shutdown's impact.

Many employees at the VA Regional Office in Muskogee will be furloughed starting Tuesday.

At 4 p.m. Monday, the building closed to the public. Many of the close to 1,400 employees here will be back at work Tuesday, but it's still unclear how many of them walked out the door Monday possibly for the last time for a while.

With no end to the government shutdown in sight the VA Regional Office is going into partial shutdown mode.

All claims processing and payments will continue and veterans will still be able to use their e-benefits accounts online. But they won't be able to come in to get help.

Most of the call centers will continue to operate, except the education call center.

The Muskogee office houses the only education benefits call center and has answered more than 3.4 million calls in the past year, but starting Monday, they won't take another call until the government starts operating again.

"They're hurting the American people by having an attitude. A lot of those people are just like me. Some of them are one paycheck away from homeless," said John Roach, a Vietnam veteran upset over the shutdown.

So, while the impact on most veterans will be minimal, the impact on those who serve them could be devastating.

Officials told FOX23 those employees who are going to be furloughed will be alerted by Tuesday that they should not come in.

The Muskogee Regional Office for the VA has an annual payroll of $105 million, with furloughs in effect that is up to $2 million a week not flowing into the local economy.  

Congress has said it will backpay furloughed employees, but it's unclear when that might happen.

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