Benefits Restored to Families of Fallen Servicemembers
(CNN) – The Pentagon will announce Wednesday it is entering into a contract with the Fisher House to ensure families of the fallen are paid the death benefits they are due but have not received because of the government shutdown, a senior Defense Department official told CNN.
The Fisher House, a group that offers assistance to families of troops in need, has agreed to cover the expenses for all families of the fallen and the government will reimburse the organization once the shutdown is over, the official said.
This is the “fix” the White House said earlier Wednesday it was searching for, the official said. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon told CNN’s Dana Bash that he had heard the Pentagon might be entering into such a relationship with the Fisher House in order to fix the death benefits problem.
The government is not allowed under law to solicit funds privately; it had to await someone coming forward with an offer, the Defense Department official said. He added that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had told the White House about the death benefit problem when it became apparent the shutdown would happen.
“We had no legal way to pay death gratuities. The Department had been searching for every possible avenue, the official said.
Earlier Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted unanimously to fund payments of death benefits to survivors of fallen military personnel.