The negative effects of a shutdown of much of the federal government overnight Monday will be felt by many everyday Americans — including residents of Southeast Arkansas.

The negative effects of a shutdown of much of the federal government overnight Monday will be felt by many everyday Americans — including residents of Southeast Arkansas.


Late Monday, as the clock ticked closer to the midnight EDT deadline for the U. S. Congress to either pass a budget to keep the federal government funded for the new fiscal year or precipitate a shutdown of many governmental functions, it looked increasingly likely that a shutdown would occur.


Cathy Flanagin, director of health communications with the Arkansas Department of Health, said that a shutdown will have immediate effects on some of the state’s most vulnerable residents.


"The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children will lose its funding," Flanagin said. "We have enough money to cover those who have already been issued vouchers for things like infant formula and milk. There will be no new certifications or re-certifications for vouchers during the shutdown. If a new baby is born tomorrow the parent will not be able to get a voucher for formula until the shutdown is over."


Flanagin said that at present 320 infants in the WIC program in Arkansas receive a special formula that is not available at regular grocery stores.


"We are contacting those families today to let them know that we have a limited supply of the special formula that will be depleted this week," Flanagin said. "We will send them to Arkansas Medicaid to apply for their medically necessary nutrition support program.


"We have 1,663 regular formula-fed infants in Arkansas who are due to certify between Oct. 1 and Oct. 4," Flanagin said. "We are referring those families to local food banks and we hope that they will be able to get help."


Flanagin said the WIC caseload for August included 23,595 infants; 43,105 children under the age of 5; and 22,039 women.


"We are very concerned about these children and their mothers," Flanagin said.


Rod Woods is the Jefferson County executive director for the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency.


"We’ll be shut down and furloughed like the many other federal government employees," Woods said Monday afternoon. "This is a particularly bad time for us and our work. October is usually when we disburse a lot of checks to farmers in the area for conservation payments and crop subsidy payments. These are going to get held up. We also won’t be able to process crop loans."


Cissi Rucker is director of the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs.


"We operate two state veterans cemeteries and a veterans home in Fayetteville," Rucker said. "We have enough funding to get us through at least 30 days. The problem will come from reimbursement delays from the federal government for expenses related to the interment of veterans."


Rucker said the department’s claims and appeal process for Arkansas veterans would be affected by a shutdown as well.


"We are a state agency but we are in a federal building," Rucker said. "We will still be able to come to our offices but we will not be able to see veterans face to face because our security officers are federal employees and will not be here. We will still be able to speak with our veterans by telephone."


Rucker said that if a shutdown becomes prolonged the VA is making plans to send officers from the state out to local and regional offices to provide more people with the training needed to do what is normally done from North Little Rock.


The U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs said on its website that VA hospitals and clinics will continue to operate as usual with no interruption in services, including inpatient and outpatient care; prescriptions; surgeries; dental treatment; extended care; mental health care; nursing home care; special health care services for women veterans; and vet centers.


Many VA call centers and hotlines, however, will not be available during a shutdown, including those for the Veterans Benefits Administration Education Call Center; the Inspector General Hotline; Congressional Liaison Veterans queries; and Human Resources for VA job applicants. Veterans Benefits Administration Regional Office public contact services will not be available.


All other call centers and hotlines are indicated as operational during the shutdown.


The National Park Service of the U. S. Department of the Interior will close all of its facilities as part of a federal government shutdown.


In Arkansas that includes the Arkansas Post National Memorial at the confluence of the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers; Hot Springs National Park; Fort Smith National Historic Site; President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace Home National Historic Site in Hope; Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site; the Pea Ridge National Military Park; and campsites along the Buffalo National River.


Staff writer Rick Joslin contributed to this article.