Shutdown shame: Families of 5 US troops killed in Afghanistan won’t get death benefits

The families of 5 troops killed in Afghanistan this weekend were informed that they won’t be receiving the death benefits due to them, to help pay for funeral costs, among other things, because of the government shutdown, NBC News is reporting.

That brings the grand total to 17 families of service members killed since the Republican shutdown who have not received the death benefits promised to them.

When service members die, their families receive a $100,000 death gratuity, which is wired to the families typically within 36 hours to pay for funeral expenses, and to pay for the families to fly to Dover to meet the arriving bodies of their loved ones.  In the case of the 5 service members who died this weekend, their families are getting an IOU.


The Republican-drafted legislation that permitted the Pentagon to keep paying service members during the shutdown omitted language permitting the death benefits to also be paid.

[UPDATE: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell had an incredible interview yesterday with GOP Cong. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin.  Mitchell tore Duffy to shreds.]

NBC has uncovered additional benefits the families will also not be receiving:


The families are, understandably, livid:

“If Congress were trapped in a car that sunk down in a river, I would swim to the window, and I would look them all in the eye and say, ‘Suck water,'” said Patterson’s father, Randall Patterson. He used an expletive to characterize members of Congress who “are still getting paid.”

Patterson said the military did pay for the flight he was taking Tuesday to Dover Air Force Base, Del., to retrieve his son’s body and for his hotel once he arrived.

Peters’ mother and brother said they were too upset to talk. His step-grandfather, Peters Jerry, said the sergeant was getting out of the military after this tour so he could be home more with his 20-month-old son.

Any delay in the gratuity would be “devastating,” Jerry said, adding that he blamed Republicans and the Tea Party.

Fortunately, a Maryland foundation has stepped forward to front the money to the families until the Republicans decide to reopen the government.

In the meantime, Congress itself is still getting paid.

In addition, we found out yesterday that House Speaker John Boehner deemed the House Gym “essential,” so it too remains in operation for members of Congress, while the families of American service members killed in action remain less essential than a sauna.

(h/t Political Carnival)

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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11 Responses to “Shutdown shame: Families of 5 US troops killed in Afghanistan won’t get death benefits”

  1. cannonpark says:

    Love that this article states “Republican shutdown” Good work John…nice unbiased reporting.

  2. lefty says:

    Obama can fix this with a pen. So why doesn’t he?

  3. Bill_Perdue says:

    That guest vote was me and the same is true of your other comment.

  4. Bill_Perdue says:

    aka, another liberal is upset by a leftist perspective.

  5. ezpz says:

    Again, thank you.

  6. ezpz says:

    Thank you for pointing out what is being done in our names, our children’s names, and their children’s names. I worry for them and the stigma that will be attached to Merkans for the abuses this govt is perpetrating on innocent civilians, many of whom are women and children, across the globe. This must be kept front and center, lest we forget as we preoccupy ourselves with our i-gadgets, shopping, shallow politics and even shallower tv shows.

  7. cole3244 says:

    pass a law that if you vote to send americans into harms way your immediate relatives (children etc) have to go in the military as soon as possible assuming they are of the appropriate age. instantly the war mongering in the good ole usa will cease 99.9% of the time like most of the corporate bs guarantees in america. lol!

  8. benb says:

    You need to start your own blog and quit wasting your time trying to hijack weakly related articles on this site.

    Oh, yeah, when I read stuff like ‘Obama Regime [that has]…American solders ..murdered.”…’*savage* war on terrorism’ I think the writer is so worked up he’s insensitive to any external intellectual influence…like spam, Fox News, the TEA party, Department stores that put those nasty smelling perfume/cologne cards in the flyers they leave in my mailbox or stuff in my morning newspaper; I want them to go away.

  9. Bill_Perdue says:

    The topic is the mistreatment of GI’s and on one is worse at it than Obama, the Clintons and the Bushes.

    My agenda is end the murder of GIs and civilians, American citizens, your’s is not.

    The real terrorist is Obama who in addition to his wars of aggression is now engaged in the extra-judicial racist murders of American citizens like Anwar al-Aulaqi, Samir Khan, ‘Abd al-Rahman Anwar al-Aulaqi and Jude Mohammed. One was a sixteen year old boy from Denver Colorado.

  10. Thom Allen says:

    You’ve gone off topic to promote your own agenda again. Anyone can post similar themes about ANY act of cruelty. You’re minimizing the actions or callous, right-wing internal terrorists practicing sedition. I can see your Afghanistan (which is, at the very best, a weak hand) and raise you a Stalin megamurder card, a pair of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and trump with a Holocaust. Now, there. See just how insignificant your Afghanistan plaint is in comparison with REAL numbers dealing with lots of cruelty, death and destruction? And I didn’t even throw in all of the deaths in World War I and II or the Black Plague.

  11. Bill_Perdue says:

    Much crueler than that is Obama’s escalation of the Bush regimes of aggression against Afghanistan. To date his war polices have murdered thousands of GIs and untold thousands of innocent men women and children in a savage war of terrorism against civilians by the US.

    As of today, 10 09 2013, 2285 American soldiers have been murdered, most under the Obama regime. Tens of thousands more are badly wounded. GI suicides are at an all time high. And who knows how many civilians have been murdered.

    “Obama Far Outdoes Bush in Escalating War — The Numbers Will Surprise You… Increasing numbers of deployed soldiers, mercenaries and drones all add up to Obama being more of a war president than Bush, in terms of hard numbers. As Obama announced plans for escalating the war effort, it has become clear that the Obama Illusion has taken yet another horrifying turn. “–_the_numbers_will_surprise_you

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