After families of fallen U.S. military personnel were denied benefits due to the government shutdown, the Fisher House Foundation has stepped forward to help cover travel and funeral costs to help families receive the remains of their loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
This undated photo provided by the U.S. Army shows Army Pfc. Cody J. Patterson. Patterson, 24, of Philomath, Ore., assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, at Fort Benning, Ga., was one of four people killed Sunday, Oct. 5, 2013 by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. (AP/US Army)
The Fisher House has been providing housing and travel assistance to military families since 199o, so this offer "is nothing new to us," Cindy Campbell, vice president of public affairs for the nonprofit organization, told TheBlaze Wednesday morning.
"What is new is the Fisher House stepping in to bridge the gap between when they get reimbursements from the government," Campbell said.
The Pentagon typically pays out $100,000 within three days of a soldier's death. But it says the shutdown means there is no authority now to pay the money.
“After losing a loved one in service to our nation, these families should not have to endure more pain as the result of political squabbling,” Ken Fisher, CEO of Fisher House Foundation, said in a statement Tuesday. “For the last 20 years, Fisher House has been there to support our military families in their time of greatest need. We are now stepping up to honor the sacrifices that have been made, and to repay a debt that is truly unpayable.”
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) called it shameful that the shutdown is "falling on the backs of our military families who have already given so much for this great country."
"However, during these times of dysfunction and gridlock rampant in Washington, it shows the strength of family organizations and the American people that they are are willing to step up and continue to move this great country forward," Manchin said in a statement.
[sharequote align="center"]"...these families should not have to endure more pain as the result of political squabbling."[/sharequote]
Campbell told TheBlaze Fisher House informed the Department of Defense of their offer, asking that it let families know of the assistance available to them. She said the nonprofit will be speaking with families, personalizing their assistance based on what they need.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Tuesday called the lack of compensation for the families of several soldiers killed in Afghanistan this weekend "appalling." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told these families that "your government has let you down in a time of your need."
This report from WTMJ-TV shares the details about a Milwaukee family of a fallen Marine denied benefits:
Congress plans to vote on a measure Wednesday to finance death benefits to families of fallen U.S. troops.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.