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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