Nonprofit will pay 2 military families’ death benefits due to shutdown

A military casket team folds a flag during a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. The families of two soldiers killed in a chopper crash Saturday will receive death benefits from a nonprofit foundation. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Jan. 22 (UPI) — The nonprofit group Fisher House has announced it will pay for death benefits for the families of two U.S. soldiers killed in a helicopter crash in California, while the government shutdown continues.

Military families are awarded a $100,000 death benefit under circumstances either stateside or overseas — a benefit they would not receive during a government shutdown.

The families of both soldiers killed when their AH64 Apache helicopter crashed early Saturday morning at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., will receive the death benefit, however.

“Despite the shutdown, our military continues to serve and we must ensure that their families are also taken care of,” the foundation wrote on its Facebook page. “It is not just families of the fallen that will be impacted, but also families of our wounded, injured and ill service members.”

On Friday, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., contacted Fisher House and facilitated the group’s payment of the families’ death benefit until government reimbursements can be made.

“I applaud Ken and the Fisher House for their dedication to serving our soldiers and their families during their time of need and especially as this senseless shutdown looms,” Manchin said.

The benefit, which is typically used to pay for travel or funeral costs, was also taken away during the last government shutdown in 2013 until Congress passed a law allowing for retroactive payments.

During the 2013 shutdown, Fisher House again provided $750,000 in grants to military families.

The two soldiers, who have not yet been identified, were from the 4th Infantry Division based at Fort Carson, Colo.

The crash Saturday was the first deadly accident for the U.S. Army in 2018.


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