MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — While the shutdown lingers across the nation, local veterans affairs offices are off-limits to the public.

“Veterans obviously are wondering, ‘Where do I go?’,” Tom Hanson said.

Hanson has had to answer that question more often in the past week than his previous 40 years of working for the VFW. Calls keep coming in — most of them with troubling questions.

“It’s frustrating and difficult for some of our elderly clients to think they’re not going to get paid,” he said. “That’s a real, scary thing.”

Hanson is a Vietnam veteran and the director of the VFW service office. While Veterans Affairs near Fort Snelling is closed, and along with it the VFW office inside, Hanson’s office remains open near the Capitol.

It’s the same story with the American Legion, which also has an office inside.

“Our offices are getting phone calls with those same concerns,” said Randy Tesdahl, Department Adjutant of the American Legion.

While vets are still getting paid during the shutdown, filing a claim is a completely different story.

Both the VFW and American Legion offices near the Capitol can get a claim started for a veteran. But it won’t be processed until the shutdown is over and Veterans Affairs re-opens.

Tesdahl said it’s difficult watching war heroes take a back seat to political bickering.

“If we feel that things aren’t going quite right, we’ll speak up,” Tesdahl said. “We’ll stand our ground. I think where higher up in Washington knows that, so there is pain being caused for whatever reason.”

The VFW and American Legion offices near the Capitol are in the Veteran Services Building.

Veterans are also encouraged to contact their county veteran service officer, as they are ready to help.

All VA medical facilities, clinics, and hospitals remain open during the shutdown.

John Lauritsen