Military Death Benefits: Fisher House Comes To Families Aid

The military death benefits that are not being paid to the families of those who have paid with their lives, will be covered by Fisher House, a private foundation.

The Obama administration knew this would happen if a government shutdown took place and yet these families are caught in the middle.

There has been outrage, on all sides, after Andrea Mitchell, from NBC News reported the disturbing situation in which families of service members killed in action during the shutdown find themselves in.

Five families are affected so far, or at least are the ones everyone is discussing at this point, there are likely to be more.

Mitchell reports that on September 27 the Pentagon warned that if the government halted funding they would not be able to pay the military death benefits to the families of the fallen. And they haven’t.

Over the weekend five US troops paid the ultimate price when they were killed in Afghanistan. It is customary that an emergency fund is paid within 36 hours of the death of a service member.

The funds are used to help with funeral costs, travel to receive the body when it is returned to US soil, and other expenses for family members.

Those death benefits are not being paid to the families who have lost loved ones in the war at this time due to the government shutdown.

Enter Ken Fisher, chairman of Fisher House, a foundation which has been involved in helping the military since its inception in the ’70s.

The foundation has stepped in, where the government hasn’t, to right a wrong and offer the full benefits to the families of the fallen soldiers, which includes a $100,000 lump sum they receive upon the death of their loved one.

Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel announced that the foundation has guarantee the survivors “the full set of benefits they have been promised, including a $100,000 death gratuity payment.”

Fisher House founder, Zachary Fisher, established the foundation in 1990 and through the years it is estimated they have paid $200 million in expenses to families of fallen soldiers, serving 180,000 individuals through the years, as stated in its website. This figure includes 19,000 in 2012.

The House of Representatives took a vote on Wednesday, which passed unanimously, to continue paying the military death benefits to service members, now the vote moves to congress.

Once the impasse is solved the Pentagon will reimburse Fisher House for the expenses.

Mitchell states that in the past, when this situation has presented itself, there has been negotiations to take care of the military families, as they are promised when they join, but this time around, they seem to be caught in the middle of political games.

The Fisher House is stepping in where the Obama administration has dropped the ball. The President stated in an interview with WFLA, that he has instructed the Pentagon to resolve the issue and make the payments, but his Press Secretary, Jay Carney could not answer reporters questions as to when the families would see those benefits during the White House briefing on Wednesday.

In the meantime, thanks to the generosity of the private foundation the military death benefits will be paid in full to those who gave their lives to defend their country.