Two years ago, Jane Horton found out that her husband, a sniper for the U.S. National Guard serving in Afghanistan, had been killed in action.
After she was told her husband was dead, the second thing officials said was that she would be receiving “death gratuities.”
“It made me so sick,” Horton told TheBlaze Wednesday.
But the fact that families of fallen soldiers are not receiving $100,000 from the government due to the federal shutdown is a “complete betrayal,” Horton said.
“Even though the government might be shut down, the war in Afghanistan has not stopped,” she said.
While nothing could assuage the grief she felt over the loss of her husband, Horton said the “gratuities” helped cover things like travel, the funeral and other expenses.
When Horton flew to Dover Air Force Base to receive the body of her husband Christopher Horton in September 2011, she used some of the money to pay for other family members to be there with her.
On Wednesday, four families will be receiving the bodies of soldiers who died in Afghanistan over the weekend, but as of right now will do so without government assistance.
“It is upsetting because my husband died for his country, and now his family is left to worry,” Ashley Peters, whose husband, Joseph, was killed, told NBC News. “My husband always said if something happened to him we would be taken care of.”
Horton explained that the money given by the government is also there to “cover all the what-ifs,” like the mortgage and groceries.
There are private and nonprofit organizations that step up to help in these tough times too, but the fact that it’s gotten to a point where a nonprofit — like the Fisher House Foundation — is now providing families with this death benefit assistance until the government reinstates it is “shocking” to Horton.
The House of Representatives is expected to vote and approve legislation Wednesday afternoon that will bring this benefit back for these families.
But while the money could help ease the burden for military families in a time of grief, Horton said it’s not the only thing they need.
“I wish the American people would pay attention more and rally around family of the fallen,” Horton said. “We are a very small and vulnerable group.”
“We need the American people to be protective of us and care for us,” she added. “Always remember the sacrifice.”