Created: 10/08/2013 11:55 PM WHEC.com
By: Lynette Adams
The partial government shutdown is deeply impacting military families that recently lost a loved one who was fighting for our nation's freedom.
The families of 17 Americans killed in action since October 1, 2013 have not received their "death benefits." We learned the military automatically pays the surviving family $100,000 within 36 hours of a death. The money is slated for the transportation of their loved one's flag-drapped coffin to Dover Air Force Base, and for funeral costs.
We spoke with retired Lieutenant Colonel Tim Hansen of Rochester who served in the armed forces for 20 years. Hansen did three tours of duty in Afghanistan and one in Kuwait. As a veteran, his reaction is strong.
"If I were a commander I would be ripping my heart out," he said. "(I'm) very disappointed with this decision, and as a retired veteran, I can't believe we have arrived at this point. It's totally unacceptable that death and burial benefits to the families of four dead soldiers is denied. As you know, for the past ten years this nation has taken care of its war dead and honored them and brought them back home. I've seen this personally, whether in Afghanistan or down in Washington."
"As Americans, we need to stand up and unite and tell Washington that our soldiers, our airmen, our marines, our sailors deserve the best, and somehow to allow for their welfare and the welfare of their families in the case where they're called to give the ultimate sacrifice."
The Pentagon also pays a surviving spouse a 12-month basic allowance for housing and other living expenses. That too has been denied.