Military Families Will Get Death Gratuity During Shutdown - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Grieving Military Families Will Get Death Gratuity During Shutdown

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Families of soldiers who are killed during the shutdown will now get death benefits that were being withheld from them due to the government shutdown.

The issue caused major outrage across the country this week, and Wednesday members of Congress and a major charity stepped up to do something about it.

The back and forth has taken its emotional toll on military families.

When the bodies of four service members killed in Afghanistan arrived at Dover Air Force Base Wednesday morning, there was not yet a guarantee their families would get the $100 thousand death benefit owed to them on time.

"In some ways, that's the only sense of hope," says Fort Hood Army wife Randi Williams, as she fights to hold back tears.

This particular government shutdown shortfall struck a painful chord with Randi.

As the tears began to flow, she said, "It infuriated me, because I have stood beside military wives that have lost their loved one."

Cene Cleaton's husband, Damon is in Afghanistan now, in harms way and on her heart.

"It's always in your mind, but there's no boundary that I wouldn't cross to get to Delaware," Cene said, also being moved to tears.

A resolution to reinstate the so-called death gratuity glided through Congress Wednesday as President Obama promised to fix the problem.

The President said, "It does a disservice to all the men and women in uniform and all those veterans who sacrificed for our freedom."

Meanwhile, the Fisher House Foundation struck a deal with the Pentagon to loan the Department of Defense the money to pay the grieving families and honor their heroes until Congress agrees on a budget to pay the money back.

"They gave the ultimate sacrifice, they're protecting us, they're protecting the country, they're saying, 'I'm doing this for a reason.' That's just a small amount to receive for what they did," Randi said.

By close of business Wednesday, the House of Representatives had unanimously passed the resolution to guarantee the death pay to families, and it was awaiting approval from the Senate.

Reporter: Sophia Stamas sstamas@kcentv.com

Photographer: Chris Buford cbuford@kcentv.com

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