Veterans across the country and in Jacksonville say they are outraged over the way the government is treating them in the midst of a government shutdown that has families of fallen soldiers turned away from memorial parks and threatens to end veterans disability payments.
A rally was held Sunday at the Memorial Wall by EverBank Field in preparation for a Million Veteran March in Washington D.C. on Tuesday.
The veterans who gathered at the Memorial Wall each have a story of commitment and sacrifice, which is why they can't understand why politicians in Washington are closing memorial parks, and threatening to cut veteran benefits.
"I just want to cry," says Carol Orr, a U.S. Marine. "It makes me angry. There's no need. These are open monuments for people who have already died and sacrificed their families. It's shameful.”
Orr and hundreds of others are supporting what's being called the Million Veteran March in Washington. On Tuesday, veterans will stage a major event in the World War II Memorial, pushing for an end to the government shutdown, that's devastating their families.
"Its discouraging," says U.S. Marine Ray Stephens. "Even the younger kids considering joining the military, it's changing their minds. Why should we fight for a country that’s not going to stand up for us?”
According to the secretary of the Veterans Affairs Committee, 3.8 million veterans are in jeopardy of losing their earned benefits. Nearly half a million disability claims are currently backlogged at the Veterans Administration, and GI Bill benefits are on the chopping block as well.
The veterans says the shutdown has caused a lot of frustration and unnecessary uncertainty. They say they don't feel appreciated for all they've sacrificed.
U.S. Marine Magnus Wallen says, "It's just beyond belief that you can't provide or give care for the veterans who gave up or were willing to give up their lives.”
"Our government officials are not doing their jobs as far as I'm concerned," Stephens says. "And each and every one of them should be voted out.”