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It Takes a Government

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The Veterans Affairs Department doesn’t do its work alone or in a vacuum, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki explained (over and over) to lawmakers seeking to fund his department before they open the rest of the government.

Shinseki warned that he would be unable to make Nov. 1 payments to millions of veterans and their families without additional funding. But, he told a House VA Committee hearing Wednesday, even those payments aren’t just about his department.

“In order to make those claims decisions, I link into the IRS, Social Security, the Department of Education, Small Business,” he said. “I don’t do that independently.”

To provide veterans services, Shinseki said, VA regularly works with the Defense, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Labor and Treasury departments -- to list a few.

“Frankly, it is this collaboration amongst and across the government that allows us to be effective,” he said. “I would say what is best for veterans and for all of us right now is a budget for the entire government. Let us get back to work.” 

Before joining Government Executive’s editing team, Rebecca Carroll wrote and edited for The Associated Press in Washington, New York and Bangkok, and for National Geographic News. She also was a Peace Corps volunteer in China, where she returned to study at the Johns Hopkins-Nanjing University Center. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, with a double major in English and Philosophy.

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