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Families Of Fallen Military Won't Get Death Benefits During Government Shutdown (Video)


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The family of any service member killed during the government shutdown will not get paid death benefits until the government is back up and running again.

Reuters reports the "death gratuity" the Department of Defense provides families within days of a service member's death is not covered under the Pay Our Military law:

A legal review of a law meant to shield the military from the shutdown determined that, while the Pentagon can promptly pay salaries and other benefits, the $100,000 tax-free payment to families of fallen troops is not covered.

That payment is usually used to help the family cover funeral expenses and other costs until survivor benefits kick in.

The Wall Street Journal reports Defense Department officials warned Congress that the Pay Our Military law would not cover the death gratuity, but that warning went unheeded:

...Congress did not act to allow the death benefits to be paid when they passed a bill shortly before the shutdown allowing active duty personnel and many Defense Department civilians to work during the shutdown.

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon of the Council on Foreign Relations explained to NBC News:

"Washington may be shut down, but it's still asking people to go to war. When people realize that they can serve and fight for their country, but that their families will get an I.O.U. until the shutdown is over, I think they're just shocked."

Four soldiers and one Marine have been killed in Afghanistan since the government shutdown began.

That Marine, Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Collins, wrote prophetically on his Facebook page before his death about the effects of the shutdown on the military:

"I am waiting for the moment they breach my contract. Just waiting, I am out here in Afghan so I can't just leave, but I can sit the f-ck down and not give two sh-ts, get it together Obama and not to mention Congress. Jesus! Make up your minds, I will protect the being of my country with my life, but do not go f-cking with the men and women that protect your sorry asses."