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Department of Defense Halts 'Death Gratuity' Payments to Families of Fallen Troops During Shutdown

4:43 PM, Oct 8, 2013 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Stars and Stripes reports that this weekend "Defense Department officials acknowledged that the shutdown had halted the $100,000 payouts given to fallen troops’ families, usually paid within a few days of their deaths."

Rep. Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, issued a statement Tuesday saying that Congress has already passed a bill intended to ensure these payments continued but will quickly act again if necessary.

"Last week Congress unanimously passed the Pay Our Military Act with the express intent that all military pay and allowances would be dispersed during a government shutdown," McKeon said. "Judging by the Department of Defense's own summary of those programs, we believed that 'death gratuities' would continue to go to the families of those heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. Without question, that was our clear intent. However, we can never let the welfare of our troops and their families become pawns in a political contest. If the Pentagon believes they need more explicit authority to disburse these payments, I am sure the House will provide it in very short order."

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