The Washington Post

Military ‘death gratuities’ on hold until end of shutdown

A U.S. Marine died on duty in Helmand province, Afghanistan on Monday, one of 21 soldiers who have died since the shutdown started, according to the Defense Department.

But until the lapse in federal funding ends, the families of deceased military personnel cannot expect to receive the “death gratuity” of $100,000 the Defense Department deposits in their bank account within 24 to 36 hours, defense officials said.

(Paula Bronstein/Getty) (Paula Bronstein/Getty)

Grieving families also cannot expect the military to cover the usual costs of travel to meet their loved ones returning home in American flag-draped coffins through Dover Air Force Base, or pay for funerals and burials, according to the Defense Department.

If the shutdown continues into November, monthly survivor benefits are in jeopardy because the Department of Veterans Affairs has warned it will not have money to pay them.

“Unfortunately, as a result of the shutdown, we do not have the legal authority to make death gratuity payments at this time,” said Nathan Christensen, a Defense Department spokesman. “However, we are keeping a close eye on those survivors who have lost loved ones.”

The benefits will be paid once the government reopens, officials said. The House plans to vote Wednesday on a bill that would ensure the payments during the shutdown — part of a GOP strategy to re-start funding for certain areas of government.

The Post’s Aaron Blake reports that Senate chaplain Barry Black, who has offered a series of stinging rebukes to Congress’s intransigence this week, focused on the issue this morning.

Lisa Rein covers the federal workforce and issues that concern the management of government.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
How to make Sean Brock's 'Heritage' cornbread
New limbs for Pakistani soldiers
The signature dish of Charleston, S.C.
Play Videos
Why seasonal allergies make you miserable
John Lewis, 'Marv the Barb' and the politics of barber shops
What you need to know about filming the police
Play Videos
The Post taste tests Pizza Hut's new hot dog pizza
5 tips for using your thermostat
Michael Bolton's cinematic serenade to Detroit
Play Videos
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom
The signature drink of New Orleans
Next Story
Steve Vogel · October 9, 2013

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.