Hagel: Shutdown Prevents Payouts to Grieving Military Families
Widows, Orphans Not Receiving Mandated Payments After Death of Heroes
(Washington, D.C.) – According to press reports , the families of those killed in the line of duty since the federal government shutdown are not currently receiving the "death gratuity" to which they are immediately entitled after the loss of their loved one. The military will also not pay the cost for families to travel to Dover Air Force Base to meet their loved ones returning home for burial. While Congress passed – and the President signed – the Pay Our Military Act, Defense Secretary Hagel's interpretation of the law does not authorize these expenses.
Additionally, should the federal shutdown not be resolved, survivor benefits may not be paid, as the Department of Veterans Affairs will run out of cash to pay them. The House of Representatives has passed legislation to fund the Department of Veterans Affairs, but the Senate refuses to take it up.
Daniel Garza, Executive Director of The LIBRE Initiative released the following statement:
"It is outrageous and unacceptable that the families of America's heroes must now suffer this insult and injustice at the time of their greatest loss and sorrow. Those who risk their lives to defend the nation are truly the finest among us and should remain that way even after passing. Their sacrifice is something every American should respect and honor. When a tragedy occurs – when lives are lost – the community needs to be there to provide every possible support and comfort to the families they leave behind. Instead, the President will not work with Congress and the lawyers cannot find a way to help military families.
The President is the Commander in Chief of America's Armed Forces, and this needs to be a priority. Despite the shutdown, federal employees have managed to close off national parks, shut down and reopen the Amber Alert site, and work on Obamacare repairs. There has to be a way to allow for these payments to be processed in a timely manner and do right by men and women in uniform."