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Lawmakers Say Military Pay Bill Should Have Covered KIA Payments Frozen by Hagel

The ultimate shutdown theater inflicting pain on those who have paid the most.

by
Bridget Johnson

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October 8, 2013 - 6:41 pm
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WASHINGTON — Lawmakers say that they gave the Pentagon authority to pay death gratuities to survivors of service members killed in action in an emergency appropriations measure — and were shocked when the Defense Department suspended the payments.

Even as anger was directed at Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s “interpretation” of the bill from both sides of the aisle, a donor stepped in with an offer to cover the immediate payments to family members until the Defense Department decides to reimburse.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) noted that Congress last week passed the Pay Our Military Act “with the express intent that all military pay and allowances would be dispersed during a government shutdown.”

That passed both chambers unanimously before being signed by President Obama on the eve of the shutdown. The bill provides for “such sums as are necessary to provide pay and allowances to members of the Armed Forces” on active duty, essential civilian personnel and essential contractors.

“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,” McKeon said.

“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.”

Hagel confirmed yesterday that grieving families of war dead are not receiving the traditional payout from the Pentagon during the shutdown.

In a readout from yesterday’s meeting with the service secretaries and service chiefs the Defense Department noted “that despite the recall of most civilians, and the resumption of many activities across the Department of Defense, there are critical programs and benefits that remain halted.”

“For example, the department does not currently have the authority to pay death gratuities for the survivors of service members killed in action – typically a cash payment of $100,000 paid within three days of the death of a service member,” it continued.

Since the shutdown began, the Pentagon has identified five casualties in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lance Cpl. Jeremiah M. Collins, Jr., 19, of Milwaukee died Saturday while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C. The circumstances around his death are under investigation.
On Sunday, four Army soldiers were killed in Zhari District, Afghanistan, when enemy forces attacked their unit with an improvised explosive device.

They were 1st Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno, 25, of San Diego, Calif., assigned to Madigan Army Medical Center, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins, 25, of Carlisle, Pa., assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Ga.; Sgt. Joseph M. Peters, 24, of Springfield, Mo., assigned to the 5th Military Police Battalion, Vicenza, Italy; and Pfc. Cody J. Patterson, 24, of Philomath, Ore., assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Fort Benning, Ga

Hawkins’ family resides in Lansing, Kansas, according to Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.).

“Sergeant Hawkins bravely answered the call to serve our country, and we will forever be indebted to him for his service and sacrifice on our behalf,” Moran said.

Separately, the senator joined a bipartisan group in the upper chamber today calling for Hagel to immediately begin issuing death gratuity payments.

Moran was joined by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), and Tom Carper (D-Del.).

“We write to express our concern with recent statements made by Department of Defense officials claiming the Department does not have the legal authority during the government shutdown to provide immediate death gratuity payments to surviving family members who lose a loved one in combat,” the letter to the Defense secretary states.

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Top Rated Comments   
The left side of the 'Bell Curve USA' has elected themselves a Sugar Daddy. Maybe we can institute an IQ requirement to vote?

Well - I can dream can't I?

49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is there nothing sacred to these morons?

The optics alone should cause a shudder in all but the most heartless among this administration.

Come to think of it most of them probably don't have a heart.

49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
So let me get this right. SecDef Hagel iinterprets the law that says only essential workers are allowed to work to mean everyone in DoD works, since by his definition everyone in DoD is essential, but then interprets a law expressly crafted to pay the families of our fallen heroes as not applying to his department. He doesn't want to brake the law. Yeah, right! I had huge issues with his competency to be SecDef. Now I have no doubts. He's both incompetent and malevolent like all of president Obama's cabinet members. What a disgraceful pack of lying self-serving rats. History will not be kind to them, nor should it be. I am embarrassed on behalf of America that we have chosen this band of lying criminals to lead and then treat the families of our fallen heroes and their families in such a way. We are all disgraced. Time to throw Obama and his accomplices out of office.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (26)
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48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's too bad we don't have some of the more courageous generals of the Civil War and WWIi in evidence. We would all be speaking German if the current crop of generals had been in command. The political generals should be tossed out and the method of selecting generals be changed . Civilian control of the military may have been a good idea once but political correctness has ruined it.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I am embarrassed that some voters selected the empty suit who is the president, a mean petty man who reacts childishly to terrible situations and who is steeped in the anti-American beliefs of hiw associates and family
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I guess Hagel IS Obama's political hack/appointee in the defense dept that made the decision.
Aside from the fact that the political damage from the optics alone should have been a no brainer, this is a despicable act committed by a despicable President. This was just a sleazy underhanded scumbag move for any nations president to do. I was floored when I heard about it.
If the media were doing their job, Obama's poll numbers will be in the 20's by the weekend. Talk about the one thing a politician could do to piss off the entire country - and Barry does it.
But wait there is more!! Barry is shutting veterans and tourists out of their own war memorials too when he does not have to.

NOW how much would you pay?
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
When I was in college (UWis,68-69) there was a group selling a book entitled, "The New Left- the New NAZI's?". I think their question is being answered by the current Administration, their crony capitalist buddies and their propagandists in the media.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wait a minute here, who are we supposed to believe:
Some "Congressman" who actually wrote the bill, or Prince Charles of Arlington who signs the checks over at the Puzzle Palace?
There can be no doubt that Prince Charles is just a lackey in the employ of King Barack the Petulant.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Undersecretary of Defense Robert Hale needs to be fired... The man was totally out of line by stopping death benefits to military families. Undersecretary of Defense Robert Hale needs to have all of his benefits stopped or completely taken away from him and his family, that includes everything.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
He should be fired.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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