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Veterans groups summoned to White House on debt ceiling impact

By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent
  • Veterans advocacy groups are summoned to the White House
  • They will be briefed on the impact of a failure to raise debt ceiling
  • Group says a growing number of veterans are worried their disability check or other benefits could be cut or withheld

Washington (CNN) -- Veterans advocacy groups have been called to the White House for a late afternoon meeting Tuesday to be briefed by Obama administration officials on the impact to veterans if Congress does not pass legislation raising the debt ceiling.

"We were notified late last night of the meeting," says David Autry, spokesman for Disabled American Veterans (DAV). Autry and several other veterans advocacy groups say a growing number of veterans are worried their disability check or other benefits could be cut or withheld if the debt ceiling crisis is not resolved.

"We need information. There is no precedent for this," said Paul Reickhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Reickhoff said his group, which is also attending the meeting, is getting an increasing number of e-mails in recent days from veterans who are worried about what might happen.

On Wednesday, the DAV is leading an all day "Virtual March on Washington" calling for the protection of veterans benefits and compensation.

"As lawmakers and the White House haggle over how to deal with the national debt and federal spending, the uncertainty over what actions our government might take is causing unnecessary and harmful anxiety in the American public at large and veterans and their families, specifically," said Barry A. Jesinoski, executive director of the DAV.

"With spending cuts on the table and the possibility that the government may not be able to meet all its financial obligations in the near future, the DAV is asking everyone to stand up and 'virtually march on Washington.'"

President Barack Obama recently raised the spectre of cuts in federal benefits to veterans and Social Security benefits if the debt ceiling is not raised. Republicans have called that a scare tactic