Gold Star Moms outraged funeral funds are frozen

Gold Star Moms are outraged the death gratuity funds for military families is frozen due to the government shutdown.
October 8, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
The government shutdown is adding a financial burden to the overwhelming grief of families of soldiers killed this weekend in Afghanistan. The fund that would help them pay for burials is frozen. ABC7 News spoke to outraged Gold Star Moms.

Sean Walsh was just 21 when he died in Afghanistan, two years ago. His mother admits what helped a little bit was the death gratuity. It is $100,000 the military immediately gives to the family to pay for funeral costs, housing, and other bills. That program is now frozen because of the government shutdown.

"It's just hard to think they're going to have to go through this time and have one more thing to worry about," said Cheryl Walsh, a Gold Star Mom.

Five families of soldiers who died this weekend were denied the money. Their bodies will arrive at Dover Air Force Base on Wednesday, but to get there the families will have to pay their own way.

"And that is one of the most dignified ceremonies. And to miss that it's hurtful and it's heartbreaking," said Walsh.

Late Tuesday night, the non-profit Fisher House Foundation offered some financial help to these families.

In Washington on Tuesday, President Barack Obama said he'd negotiate with Republicans, if they raised the debt ceiling and ended the shutdown.

"We can't make extortion routine and part of our democracy. Democracy doesn't function this way," said Obama.

"What the president said today was if there is unconditional surrender by the Republicans, he'll sit down and talk to us. That's not the way our government works," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

If the shutdown continues into November, survivor benefits paid monthly to soldiers' spouses could be in jeopardy.


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