Shutdown Denies Death and Burial Benefits to Families of Four Dead Soldiers
The families of four soldiers killed in Afghanistan last weekend will not receive death benefits or the money to pay for their funerals because of the government shutdown, the New York Times reports. The bodies of Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins, 25; Pfc. Cody J. Patterson, 24; Sgt. Joseph M. Peters, 24; and First Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno, 25, will arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Wednesday -- but if their families want to meet the plane, they will have to pay their own way. Carl Woog, a Defense Department spokesman, said on Tuesday that under the shutdown "the Department of Defense does not currently have the authority to pay death gratuities and other key benefits for the survivors of service members killed in action." The benefits include $100,000 to each family; a 12-month basic allowance for housing, usually given in a lump sum to survivors commensurate with the rank of the service member; and burial benefits. The benefits are also being withheld from the family of Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Collins Jr., 19, of the Marines, whose death on Saturday in Helmand Province is being investigated by the Pentagon. Meanwhile, a private foundation is stepping forward to provide families with an advance grant until the government funding resumes.