Soldier's wife discusses government shutdown, denied military benefits

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by Shern-min Chow / KHOU 11 News

KMOV.com

Posted on October 9, 2013 at 7:14 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 9 at 7:59 AM

HOUSTON -- There is new outrage over the effects of the government shutdown. Several military families are being denied death benefits.

The $100,000 per family are for travel expenses, funeral arrangements and the lost military paychecks until permanent survivor benefits come through.

Now the families of those killed in action, are the latest casualties in the budget battle.

Afghanistan has been called America's forgotten war and some accuse America of forgetting those who have died fighting there.

On Sunday, an IED exploded, killing four U.S. servicemen and injuring 30 others. Among those hurt is Galveston native Charleston Faglie. His wife Lauren is four months pregnant with their first child.

“It’s just been a lot,” Lauren said.

The 26-year-old Ranger Sgt. is recovering in Afghanistan.

“It’s a traumatic brain injury,” Lauren said. “It’s from the effects of explosion. It's the equivalent of a concussion.”

The couple met at Ball High School on the Galveston Island. Lauren is grateful her high school sweetheart will be okay.

For the 17 killed in action since the government shutdown, death benefits are also being shutdown to their families.

“Normally within 36 hours they get the $100,000 so they can fly where they need to go to claim the body,” Lauren said.

But the Pentagon said the Military Benefits Act passed just before the shutdown doesn't authorize death benefits. Republicans are livid.

“We gave broad authority to the department of defense to pay all kinds of bills, including this and frankly I think it's disgraceful that they're withholding these benefits,” said House Speaker John Boehner.

The GOP is refusing to fully fund the government unless President Obama agrees to budget cuts which he won't do.

“We can’t make extortion routine as part of democracy,” President Obama said. “Democracy doesn’t function that way.”

Until Washington figures out the death benefits, private charities, such as Luke's Wings, are stepping in to fly the families to Dover to receive their fallen servicemen.

“They need our support, they need our prayers,” Lauren said.

Republicans said Wednesday the House will specifically address this issue and they hope the president will sign the measure.

If you’d like to help check out these non-profits: Luke’s Wings, Lead the Way Fund and Ranger Assistance Foundation.

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