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Legion: Take care of families of the fallen

Legion: Take care of families of the fallen

The American Legion has placed its support behind legislation that will immediately reinstate the U.S. military’s death gratuity, which has become a casualty of the partial federal government shutdown.

The death gratuity provides a special tax-free payment of $100,000 to eligible survivors of members of the U.S. Armed Forces who die while on active duty or while serving in certain reserve statuses. Today.com reported Oct. 8 that the families of five U.S. servicemembers killed over the weekend in Afghanistan were notified that they won’t be receiving the $100,000 benefit, which typically is wired to the survivors within 36 hours to assist them in meeting their financial needs immediately following a death and before other survivor benefits, if any, become available.

A Pentagon official has confirmed that, during the shutdown, the Department of Defense does not have legal authority to make death gratuity payments, or provide burial benefits or travel expenses for funeral services or dignified transfers at Dover Air Force Base.

Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., has introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives - H.R. 3274, The Fallen Heroes and Families Assistance Act - that would make appropriations available to ensure the continued payment of the death gratuity during the shutdown. The Legion sent a letter to Barber is support of the resolution.

"Congress has an obligation to put uniformed members and veterans ahead of politics, and the fact that funding for veteran’s burial programs and associated supported services like death gratuity payments are going unfunded due to political gamesmanship is unconscionable," the letter states. "Even when the government cannot agree on anything else, it must agree that taking care of the families of the fallen must never be in question."

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Andrew Culbreth

October 11, 2013 - 10:26am

Lets fix all this. VOTE for any viable candidate except the incumbent.

Jay Stuart

October 11, 2013 - 10:08am

Watching Cspan conference with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Shinseki. He was asked about the disgraceful treatment of fallen vets. His comment was that even if outside funds were available the VA would NOT allow the immediate burial of a fallen soldier at a VA cemetary. Why isn't the American Legion on every news outlet demanding the President correct this injustice? Where is the leadership in Washington and at the American Legion? Show me where I am wrong.

ed brad

October 10, 2013 - 7:37pm

This has been a complete national disgrace. We now know that it was pointed out by Pentagon attorneys about 2 weeks ago that the "shutdown" would end the "death gratuity" to families of deceased military. So a bill was passed to fund the military which was supposed to also cover families.... When the President was informed, we are told, he directed his staff to "fix it" immediately. In the interim, the Fisher House Foundation (a private charitable foundation)has provided the benefits to the families, and another bill was prompted to be passed. But why did it happen in the first place and where is the Commander-in Chief? He knew this was possible. Did he use this as a political pawn? Why did it take so long to address? Why can't Obama just issue an executive order to fix this NOW??? And where was the Congress?

Becky m

October 10, 2013 - 4:02pm

This is unconstitutional, only congress can incur debt, plus house already passed the bill there was no reason for the administration to break the constitution and I personally don't want any future administration from either party having free rain to incur debt and bypass the constitution!

Chuck Menz

October 9, 2013 - 1:34pm

This seems to be the biggest and final slap in the face to those now serving and those who have served, to stop payments, transportation and escort to the five who in the last few days gave their all, but allow the illegals to demonstrate on memorial grounds closed to other veterans. I hope the American people see through this ruse by this administration to get complete acceptance to a health care plan that has need to be gone over page by page by both sides and come up with a health plan that will work for all of the people not just the select.

ed brad

October 9, 2013 - 11:48am

It has been reported that when Congress passed the "Pay Our Military Act" , everyone believed that death benefits to families would continue. But when lawyers got a hold of it, THEY stopped these benefits. NBC reports that White House lawyers were among them. How much of a role they played and where they may have gotten direction remains to be seen. Regardless, it should be obvious to everyone that the Obama administration is trying to make this shutdown as painful as possible in order to win over political support. Military chaplins have been told that they cannot conduct religious ceremonies on military installations - even IF they did so w/o pay and completely voluntarily. They were threatened with arrest if services were held. Veterans denied access to the open air WWII memorial, just like closing WH tours during the sequester, is deliberate, and intended to score political points. Now we learn that a large planned illegal alien protest was allowed to take place on the mall - further evidence that the pain is selective. The president did not speak out about the WWII vets. He should. And now he should immediately speak out and fix this! As Oliver North stated this morning, he can do so with an executive order NOW!

Jazpilot

October 9, 2013 - 9:10am

I think we should send Obama into the war zone with a very small gun and see what he thinks about that. I bet the Veterans benefits would be reinstated faster then a bolt of lighting.

crustyone

October 10, 2013 - 4:12pm

He already has a small gun and a small brain to match it.

Hooter

October 9, 2013 - 12:29am

Ollie North mentioned during a TV interview, none of this requires an "Act of Congress", simple stroke of the pen on a presidential emergency action document by the administration.

Jerry Joyner

October 8, 2013 - 10:02pm

Can you provide a phone number to call the Sec of Defence about the non-payment of benefits to our fallen heros.

smokemifyougotem

October 8, 2013 - 7:26pm

For Immediate Release: October 8, 2013 Contact: Claude Chafin (202) 225-2539 McKeon Statement on Death Gratuity Washington- Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon (R-CA) Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee made the following statement on the provision of death benefits to families of fallen troops during the government shutdown. "Last week Congress unanimously passed the Pay Our Military Act with the express intent that all military pay and allowances would be dispersed during a government shutdown. Judging by the Department of Defense's own summary of those programs, we believed that 'death gratuities' would continue to go to the families of those heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. Without question, that was our clear intent. However, we can never let the welfare of our troops and their families become pawns in a political contest. If the Pentagon believes they need more explicit authority to disburse these payments, I am sure the House will provide it in very short order." Last week, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) Chairman of the Subcommittee on Military Personnel wrote to Secretary Hagel seeking clarification on what pay and allowances from DoD's own comprehensive list would be permitted under the Pay Our Military Act. ####

DEBRA LA MEL

October 8, 2013 - 6:28pm

I am so sick and tired of all of the cutting having to do with our Active Duty Military or the Veteran first if anyone should be taken care of first and foremost it is them. The families of the fallen especially they made the ultimate sacrifice and they need to be respected as such. If you have to take the Congress pay to do then so be it. I was a Army daughter, I am a Disabled Army Veteran's wife and also a USMC MOM. When the bill collectors want there money and we don't have it I am going to tell them to call Congress to get it.

crustyone

October 10, 2013 - 4:17pm

The POtuS takes care of himself and his middle eastern buddies here in the States and abroad before he honors the well deserved and earned benefits due active duty, retirees, and veterans.

Rhonda Dash

October 8, 2013 - 4:37pm

Is that the price the government pays for a human life - NOTHING! Pay the money now or pay in Hell!

Rhonda Dash

October 8, 2013 - 4:36pm

Is that the price the government pays for a human life - NOTHING! Pay the money now or pay in Hell!

Mary H.

October 8, 2013 - 4:24pm

Take Obama's pay & Congress's pay & take care of these families. They can never be paid enough for what they have lost!!!

Jess Bosquez

October 8, 2013 - 3:42pm

This is absurd, the first financial cuts and benefits should go to Congress. Are they not the body of Goverment that alllocates how the money is spent ? Now they should meet the commitment they made.

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