Thousands of civilian defense employees across the state were sent home last week when the government shutdown began.

But many are now back on the job.

The State newspaper reports that nearly 2,000 civilian workers at South Carolina military bases went back to work Monday.

That, after Congress passed and the President signed a bill that continues pay and benefits for many in the military and Defense Department during the shutdown.

Meanwhile, the Air Force Times reports that Veterans regional offices will be closed beginning this morning as the government shutdown forces furloughs of 7,000 employees of the Veterans Benefits Administration.

Phones won't be answered at the regional offices, but most toll-free numbers for assistance will remain operating.

Officials say benefits claims are still being processed, but more slowly.

VA hospitals, clinics, and counseling and rehab programs remain open.

But officials are warning that if the government shutdown lasts toward the end of the month, there could be delays in November benefits payments, including disability compensation.