Military family members are now getting bad news wrapped in huge bills as government death and survivor funds stop flowing, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, a senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations,
reported in Defence One today.
Lemmon outlines how the recent deaths of five troops in combat will add financial loss to untold emotional loss for their families:
Until the shutdown ends, none of their families can expect to receive the “death gratuity” of $US100,000 promised to immediately reach them within 24 to 36 hours. Grieving families also cannot expect the military to cover all the usual costs of family travel to meet their loved ones returning home for burial in American flag-draped coffins through Dover Air Force Base. And if the shutdown continues into November, monthly survivor benefits are in jeopardy because the Department of Veterans Affairs has warned it will be out of cash to pay them.
While politicians use troops as props and punchlines, the military is actually suffering.
Despite the hastily assembled Pay Our Military Act, troops heading to war don’t know if their imminent danger pay will be paid, not to mention their death gratuity.
Meanwhile stateside, veterans find themselves at odds with a short-staffed Veteran’s Administration, which even fully staffed suffered countless problems.
Training for active duty and reserve troops was cut short as the more civilian employees needed to run courses were furloughed.
Even travel to schools for troops trying to further their military careers has experienced a bit of a hiccup, not to mention more routine, easily overlooked expenditures.
Essential national-security missions have not yet been affected, but nearly every kind of routine activity, from training to food shopping, is suspended or uncertain. And the prevailing feeling among soldiers is that the longer the shutdown goes on, the worse it will get.
“A week won’t make a significant difference,” said one Army officer. “Two weeks and you might start to see readiness issues.”
Finally, troops returning from war and grieving families will face a bureaucratic nightmare when trying to get benefits and compensation from the understaffed, backlogged Department of Defence.
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