Veterans returned Tuesday to the closed World War II Memorial in Washington to highlight what they call the partial government shutdown’s “devastating impact” on the military community.

The rally at the memorial — now a national symbol of allegedly excessive cutbacks tied to the partial government shutdown – was organized by the Military Coalition, a group of 33 veteran and military-oriented services groups representing more than 5.5 million members.

Members say that veterans have become a pawn in the jockeying over the partial government shutdown — pointing to decisions to block visitors from the open-air WWII memorial and threaten the cut-off of military benefits for millions of active and retired military if no deal is reached to increase the federal debt limit.

“Millions of men and women who are transitioning or have already transitioned from military service will be forced to depend on charity,” Steve Gonzalez, an American Legion economic director, told those in attendance.