UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News) The Pentagon arranged yesterday to have a private foundation pay death benefits to the survivors of U-S troops killed during the federal government shutdown. Last Saturday's death of Milwaukee Marine Jeremiah Collins got tied up in the political finger-pointing in Congress over who's to blame for the shutdown. In the meantime the private Fisher House Foundation has agreed to pay full benefits to military survivors, including a $100,000 payment to help families with their immediate expenses and funeral costs. The government will pay Fisher House back after the shutdown ends.
The foundation offers a variety of services. They include short-term housing for families at military bases where their loved ones are treated for combat injuries. Collins, a 19-year-old Marine lance corporal, died at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan. The cause of his death is still being investigated.
Collins' mother Shannon said on N-B-C's "Today Show" that the government was hurting the wrong people -- and she'll never understand why. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he warned Congress that death benefits would not be paid during a government shutdown. They were not included in the military pay package approved a day before the shutdown began last Tuesday.