The Leavenworth City Commission will send a letter to U.S. lawmakers urging them to do everything they can to end the partial shutdown of the federal government as soon as possible.

The Leavenworth City Commission will send a letter to U.S. lawmakers urging them to do everything they can to end the partial shutdown of the federal government as soon as possible.

The letter was suggested Tuesday by Mayor Pro-Tem Mike Griswold at the conclusion of a City Commission meeting.

"I just wanted to throw that out," he said of the suggestion.

Griswold said he did not intend for the letter to be "political." But he said local Federal Bureau of Prisons employees are affected by the partial shutdown, which began Dec. 22.

Some departments within the federal government already have funding and are unaffected by the shutdown.

But the BOP is part of the U.S. Department of Justice, which has had a lapse in appropriations as a result of the shutdown.

BOP employees at the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth remain on the job, but they are not receiving paychecks.

Commissioner Larry Dedeke said he did not oppose sending a letter as long as it contained language similar to what Griswold had proposed.

City Manager Paul Kramer said he will prepare a letter to be sent to the two U.S. senators from Kansas as well as U.S. Reps. Steve Watkins and Sharice Davids.

Watkins represents a congressional district that includes Leavenworth County. And Davids represents a neighboring congressional district.

Also Tuesday, Joseph Burks, public affairs officer for the VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System, addressed commissioners about VA programs including efforts to prevent veteran suicides.

"It's our number one clinical priority," he said of suicide prevention.

The VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System includes the Eisenhower VA Medical Center in Leavenworth.

Burks said the Department of Veterans Affairs has launched a two-week initiative focusing on preventing veteran suicides. But he said VA efforts to battle the problem will not end after two weeks.

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