Despite Congress unanimously passing a bill that pays our military during the shutdown, and despite Obama’s own signature on that law, the Obama administration is refusing to pay death benefits to families who lost a relative in the military.
In what veterans groups call an outrageous slight after the ultimate sacrifice, the shuttered federal government is withholding a $100,000 payment normally wired to relatives of soldiers killed at war.
The payment, known as the death gratuity, is typically sent to families of the fallen within 36 hours to help them cover funeral costs or travel to meet the flag-draped coffins of their loved ones.
The families of five American service members killed over the weekend in Afghanistan have been notified that they will not receive the payment.
“Impacting grieving families when they are at their absolute weakest point is just disgusting,” said Joe Davis, a spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the largest organization of combat veterans in the United States.
“Veterans, military personnel and now their families are not to be used as leverage in this political game of blame,” he said. He called on leaders in Congress to “put the country ahead of their politics.”
Congress passed a law last week to pay the military during the shutdown. Pentagon officials studied it to assess whether it might cover the death gratuity and determined that it was not possible, a defense official told NBC News on Tuesday.
So the $100,000 payment, meant to tide families over until military survivor benefits kick in, was being withheld for relatives of the killed over the weekend in Afghanistan, four from the Army and one from the Marines.
But they can’t pay the families of fallen soldiers. These people are revolting.