The Shutdown: Military Death Benefits!
Like the shutdown itself, the cutoff of military death benefits to grieving families is just another big government screw-up. No one should be surprised by that.
It’s not the screw-ups themselves, but how screw-ups are handled after the fact that matter. This screw-up is being handled badly and those responsible should be reprimanded… or worse.
Screw-ups are a fact of life in Washington DC. Screw-ups are the reason a bloated U.S. federal government needs to be reformed.
The left hand no longer knows what the right hand is doing.
Here is how it went down…
Just before the shutdown began the Congress passed and the President signed into law the “Pay Our Military Act” (HR 3210). It’s a continuing resolution to rightly pay salaries for military personnel defending our freedoms during the shutdown.
Payment of death benefits to the surviving families of those who gave the last full measure of devotion to this nation was overlooked in the haste to put together the 4-page bill. Specifically, a $100,000 payment made to the families of fallen soldiers wasn’t included. Instead, payments were halted.
So far, 17 grieving families have been affected since the shutdown began. It adds unthinkable insult for an unfathomable loss to stunned survivors.
How could this happen? Who knew what and when and why did they do what they did is hotly debated. Partisan finger pointing by the political spin-masters revved up into high gear.
Rhetoric, of course, doesn’t matter.
What matters is immediately restoring those benefits. Period. End of conversation.
The 2nd Screw-up
I’m not gonna wait for Congress… it’s gonna get fixed today!
– President Barack Obama, 10/09/2013
It was widely reported yesterday that an angry President Obama ordered Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to fix the problem by end-of-day.
Hagel, on Monday, had just ordered 400,000 military contractors back from furlough. Benefits are a slam dunk, right?
Its a fair guess that ending 400,000 military furloughs cost 100 times more than $1.7 million… the cost of benefits that should have went out to the 17 suffering families.
Did Hagel simply order that death benefits be restored immediately?
No. He didn’t!
Fisher House to the Rescue
Thank goodness for Fisher House!!
Fischer House is a private non-profit foundation best known for building a network of homes near VA medical centers all over the world. It allows families of injured soldiers to be near their loved one while they undergo treatment for injuries suffered in battle.
Fischer House was founded by Zachary Fisher, a prominent New York real estate developer.
Fisher House also provides air fare to families that can’t afford it to be near their kin.
After hearing that death benefits for fallen soldiers had been suspended, Taylor stepping in and took action.
He paid the benefits out of his own pocket as well as flying some families to Europe to return as part of the honor guard accompanying soldier’s remains home to their final resting places.
All that happened before an angered President Obama, in front of TV cameras, ordered the problem fixed by end-of-day yesterday.
Taylor deserves a Medal of Freedom for his unselfish efforts on behalf of the families.
Hagel and the Administration deserve scorn.
As a matter of dignified military honor for the fallen, the federal government should assume complete responsibility for soldiers killed in action. That is not what happened.
Instead, Hagel formalized an arrangement with Taylor to provide death benefits and travel expenses through his private foundation until the shutdown ends. Reimbursement of all costs to Taylor will be made at shutdown end.
Yesterday, by a vote of 425-0, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to restore death benefits and sent it to the Senate.
Other than pure partisan politics, there is no logical reason to accept Fisher House generosity.
The Senate, under Harry Reid, should have simply brought the bill to the Senate floor for a vote. It would have passed 100-0. The bill could then have been sent to the President for signature last night. That would have been the honorable thing for Congress and the President to do. And that would be that.
Heck, the President could have signed an executive order restoring the death benefits.
As it stands today, Harry Reid still refuses to bring the House bill up for vote. Taylor’s outrage at the injustice of it all makes great partisan press for Democrats!!
The Democrats think it makes them look good and makes Republicans look bad.
What is does is make the whole government from the President on down stink to high heaven.