Military families already struggling with recent setbacks caused by the ongoing government shutdown have just been hit with another hard reality.
The Department of Defense announced in a recent statement that it currently lacks the funding to issue the $100,000 "death gratuity" benefits to the families of fallen soldiers.
"All of the leaders noted that despite the recall of most civilians and the resumption of many activities, critical programs and benefits remain halted," the Pentagon said in the statement. "For example… the department does not have the authority to pay death gratuities for the survivors of service members killed in action."
According to The Washington Times, the families of at least five fallen servicemembers killed in Afghanistan last weekend were denied these transitional survivor benefits. The "death gratuity" benefits, which are cash payments typically wired to the families, ensure that the families can pay for funeral services, fly to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware – where the coffins are delivered – and cover other costs until the official survivor benefits are enacted. None of these benefits are available during the shutdown. However, the Pentagon maintains that survivor benefits and military life insurance will be paid to military families.
Although the Pentagon said that its officials were working to remedy the recent suspensions of death benefits and other military programs, the statement revealed that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel remained concerned for active-duty troops and their families during this period of uncertainty.