The “Death Gratuity” is an emergency financial distribution ($100k) to the family of a service member killed in action. It’s typically sent to families within three days to help cover funeral costs or travel to meet the flag-draped coffins of their loved ones.
Sunday night was not a good night for troops on the ground. A Marine was killed during a combat patrol. A platoon from 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment helicopter assaulted onto target. In the end, four died—two Rangers, two attachments. There were so many wounded by the command detonated IEDs and suicide bombers that the platoon was rendered combat ineffective. For those of you that have served, it was the nightmare you hope you’d never have to face: it was a mas-cas.
But because of what I can only describe as one of the grossest failings of our government during the current shut down (and that’s saying something, I know), the tragedy of Sunday night’s actions are just beginning.
According to sources inside of Special Operations Command, this morning at roughly 0930 there was a video teleconference. In the conference, liaison personnel who were already tasked with the almost impossible job of telling these families their son or daughter has been killed in action, now have to tell them something else: that their government has failed them and they will not be getting any governmental assistance until the government shutdown is over. (continue reading)
Five servicemen were killed in Afghanistan this past weekend. The DoD has released the following statement:
“Unfortunately, as a result of the shutdown, we do not have the legal authority to make death gratuity payments at this time. However, we are keeping a close eye on those survivors who have lost loved ones serving in the Department of Defense.” – Nate Christensen, a spokesman for the DoD
President Obama’s administration *interpreted* the congressional “Pay Our Military Act” to exclude payments of the Death Gratuity.
Washington- Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee made the following statement on the provision of death benefits to families of fallen troops during the government shutdown.
“Last week Congress unanimously passed the Pay Our Military Act with the express intent that all military pay and allowances would be dispersed during a government shutdown. Judging by the Department of Defense’s own summary of those programs, we believed that ‘death gratuities’ would continue to go to the families of those heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Without question, that was our clear intent. However, we can never let the welfare of our troops and their families become pawns in a political contest.
If the Pentagon believes they need more explicit authority to disburse these payments, I am sure the House will provide it in very short order.”
Last week, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) Chairman of the Subcommittee on Military Personnel wrote to Secretary Hagel seeking clarification on what pay and allowances from DoD’s own comprehensive list would be permitted under the Pay Our Military Act.
In addition Megyn Kelly discussed this last night on her show: