Amidst the nine million children who aren’t getting government assistance and the shuttering of preschools thanks to the government shutdown, five families are being denied money to bury their kids. A new level of fucked up has just been reached.
NBC reports that our federal government is sitting on a $100,000 payment, known as “death gratuity,” that is normally sent to families 36 hours after losing a family member. The money is intended to cover funeral costs or travel to see the coffin draped with an American flag.
But five families who lost loved ones over the weekend in Afghanistan have been notified that payment is not en route at this time:
“Unfortunately, as a result of the shutdown, we do not have the legal authority to make death gratuity payments at this time,” said Nate Christensen, a spokesman for the Defense Department. “However, we are keeping a close eye on those survivors who have lost loved ones serving in the Department of Defense.”
A defense official added that if the department were allowed to pay the death gratuity during the shutdown, it would be paid “with great relief.”
While Congress did reportedly pass a law last week to ensure that the military gets paid during the shutdown, this motion did not include death gratuity. So for the time being, these grieving families of the following service members are just holding IOUs:
The Marine was Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Collins Jr., 19, of Milwaukee, who the Pentagon said died Saturday while supporting combat operations in Helmand province. The Pentagon said that the death was under investigation.
Four soldiers were killed Sunday by an improvised bomb in Zhari district: 1st Lt. Jennifer Moreno, 25, of San Diego; Sgt. Patrick Hawkins, 25, of Carlisle, Pa.; Sgt. Joseph Peters, 24, of Springfield, Mo.; and Pfc. Cody Patterson, 24, of Philomath, Ore.
The mother and brother of Peters, who was assigned to the Army’s 5th Military Police Battalion, based in Italy, said that they were too upset to talk. His step-grandfather, Peters Jerry, said that the sergeant was getting out of the military after this tour, so that he could be home more with his 20-month-old son.
I can’t even.
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