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Passport worries eased; VA was ready to go on

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
As 16-year-old Lauren Pletcher waited to apply for a passport Friday afternoon, she held out hope that the government wouldn’t shut down her tropical vacation.
The Kannapolis resident is traveling May 8 for a cruise in the Bahamas with her grandparents, who are giving her the trip as a graduation present.
You usually can get a passports in four to six weeks — two to three if expedited — but the State Department said it would have stopped processing them if the government shutdown that was to begin today went into effect. Pletcher went to the Salisbury Post Office to get her application in Friday.
“I had a passport, but I can’t find it,” Pletcher said. “We’ll have to rush it and hope it comes. … We already bought the tickets.”
The homeschooled student’s plans already have been changed once, said her mother, Emily Herbert.
“She was supposed to go to Greece, but they decided not to because of the unrest,” Herbert said.
Post office staff said passport applications were steady Friday, but no more frequent than usual.
Processing also was set to halt on paper federal tax returns, which still must be filed with the Internal Revenue Service by April 18. E-filing would have kept refund checks from being delayed..
The Department of Veterans Affairs was ready to continue delivering medical care at the W.G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center in Salisbury and outpatient clinics in Charlotte, Hickory and Winston-Salem.
Many services to veterans would not have been affected by the reduced appropriations.

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