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Government Shutdown: Military Families Receiving Death Benefits for Fallen Loved Ones

After 2 days of political sniping, the Congress, White House, and Pentagon scrambled the make sure military families receive death benefits for their fallen loves ones.
After 2 days of political sniping, the Congress, White House, and Pentagon scrambled the make sure military families receive death benefits for their fallen loves ones.

They paid the ultimate sacrifice for the nation, and then their families were paid the ultimate insult.  Denied the $100,000 dollars in death benefits and paid travel to Dover Air Force Base to meet their next of kin, due to the partial government shutdown.

Sgt. Joseph Peters, First Lieutenant Jennifer Moreno, Sgt Patrick Hawkins, and Private First Class Cody Patterson returned home from Afghanistan.  Friends of Sgt Peters, who left behind a wife and a 20 months old son, expressed concern.

"People lose their lives, people losing their sons and daughters, their husbands, their wives.  They have family waiting that need help."

On the eve of the shutdown, the President signed the Pay Our Military Families Act.  Congressional Republicans thought the law gave the Pentagon the authority it needed to pay death benefits.

"Frankly I think it's disgraceful they're withholding benefits."

"I guess somebody in the Justice Department or the Pentagon had some problems interpreting what we said."

The White House woke up to the problem, ordering the Pentagon and it's lawyers to fix it.

"The President was very disturbed to learn of this problem.  The President expects this to be fixed today."

Begging the question of why wasn't it fixed sooner?  The Pentagon warned Congress, the public, and presumably the White House 3 days before the shutdown.

"We would also be required to do some other bad things to our people.  Just some examples, we couldn't immediately pay death gratuities to those who die on active duty during the lapse."

Defense Secretary Hagel accepted a solution offered by the private charity, Fisher House, which agreed to step in and pay the families until the shutdown ends.

"We are going to bridge the gap until sanity rules in Washington and the President and Congress get in a room and straighten this out!"

At Dover, all 4 families made it in time to meet the coffins, greeted by Defense Secretary Hagel, on his first visit to Dover since taking the job in February.  On the Senate floor, the Chaplain provided a prayer.

"Lord, when our federal shutdown delays payments of death benefits to the families of children dying on far-away battlefields, it's time for our lawmakers to say enough is enough."

In the end, the Pentagon, which has the largest budget in the Federal Government, decided the solution was to let the private sector pay.
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