Regional office Director Michael Scheibel said VA medical centers, clinics and health services, which already have been funded through 2014, would remain open.

Federal employees weren't the only workers concerned about their jobs. Ciara Zachary, a senior health research associate for Econometrica in Bethesda, was given the option of staying home as managers determined how the shutdown would affect the company's workload — which consists largely of government contracts.

"They say we're fine for now, but we'll see," the Mount Vernon woman said. "I'm crossing my fingers."

Baltimore Sun reporters Michael Dresser, John Fritze, Yvonne Wenger and Pamela Wood contributed to this article.">