House sets vote to restore death benefits for families of fallen servicemembers

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by 13News Now

WHAS11.com

Posted on October 9, 2013 at 1:21 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 9 at 1:29 PM

10/9 6:30 a.m. UPDATE: House Republicans are introducing legislation today with an expected vote to restore benefits to families.
Kathy Nelson with the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society told 13News Now the organization will assist families with specific expenses, including funeral, travel and burial costs, during the shutdown.

WASHINGTON -- Families of servicemembers killed in combat are the latest casualty of the government shutdown.

They're being denied many death benefits.

"Unfortunately, as a result of the shutdown, we do not have the legal authority to make death gratuity payments at this time," says Pentagon spokesman Navy Lt. Com. Nate Christensen. "However, we are keeping a close eye on those survivors who have lost loved ones serving in the Department of Defense."

Benefits placed on hold during the shutdown:

  • Immediate $100,000 lump sum death gratuity
  • Reimbursing families for travel to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware for meeting the remains of their loved one
  • Burial benefits, including the cost of memorial services, caskets and other expenses
  • Paying the travel expenses of families who wish to be at the bedside of a badly-wounded service member

According to Christensen, payments that are continuing during the shutdown include the processing of a $400,000 death insurance policy and a monthly survivor benefit stipend since it's paid by the Treasury Department out of the retirement fund.

Hundreds of viewers voiced their outage about this issue on our 13News Now Facebook page

Maria Blount Whittaker wrote, "So Horrible that the family will lose a love one and then they have to deal with the fact they will lose the benefits, which I am sure they will be needing, the government is so sad for doing this to the people whom give their lives for their country. Such a Sad thing, this is why we have to pray as a nation."

Laura Bortnick wrote, "This is disgraceful...shame on both sides of congress. Our heroes deserve so much more from the politicians whose choices lead them into absolute danger. Don't throw mud at just one party...they both are failing us."

 

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