Chuck Hagel, call your office please.
Some grieving families want to talk.
While the defense secretary was recalling almost 400,000 civilian employees of the Pentagon because they suddenly became “essential” to the military’s continued operation, someone must have forgotten about the families of Hagel’s uniformed employees – the ones who die in the service of their country.
The government shutdown that hasn’t stopped the National Park Service from morphing into storm troopers to close down monuments and memorials around the country was enough to hold up the “death gratuity,” a government benefit for the families of those whose names will be on memorials in the future, NBC News reported Tuesday.
According to the report, the survivors of five soldiers who died in Afghanistan over the weekend have been told the U.S. military is incapable of paying a $100,000 death benefit that’s usually in the works within two days of the death.
The money is usually intended to cover funeral costs and immediate living expenses for the survivors, including travel far to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to receive the remains of their loved ones.
The pre-shutdown Pay Our Military Act, which made sure service personnel would get paychecks for the duration of the government’s closure, didn’t cover the death benefit, NBC reported.
But there is some good news. Citing a “disgusted” senior official, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reported the problem could be resolved as early as Tuesday.
If that senior official really is Hagel hiding behind anonymity, the self-loathing must be killing him.
Check out Mitchell’s report here: