October 9, 2013
The Honorable Chuck Hagel
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000
Dear Mr. Secretary:
I am writing to you on behalf of, and in support of, the family of Marine Corps Lance Corporal Jeremiah M. Collins, Jr. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who died serving our country in Afghanistan on October 5th. Last night, I had an opportunity to speak with his family and offer my respect and gratitude for Jeremiah's brave service and sacrifice. I know you join me today, and every day, as we hold his family in our hearts.
As the family of a member of the Armed Forces who died on active duty, Lance Corporal Collins's family deserves to have his service and sacrifice respected and rewarded, but because of the political games in Washington that have shut down the federal government, that sadly is not happening. That is wrong and it needs to be fixed. I am therefore respectfully requesting that you pursue any and all options to ensure that Lance Corporal Collins's family immediately receives the assistance and benefits they deserve as survivors of a U.S. service member who has paid the ultimate sacrifice.
As you know, the Department of Defense provides a one-time, tax-free payment of $100,000 to eligible survivors of members of the Armed Forces who die while on active duty. This benefit is essential to many families at a time of struggle and challenge, and they deserve the economic security it provides as they work to move forward and rise above their loss. We have a shared responsibility to help them carry the weight of losing a loved one and this is a promise we must keep.
I will continue working with my congressional colleagues to responsibly end this shutdown as soon as possible and open the federal government, but military families should not have to pay the price and wait to receive the support they have earned and deserve. I would ask that you exercise all legal authorities and options available to take action and provide full benefits to the family of Lance Corporal Jeremiah M. Collins, Jr. and all families of members of the Armed Forces who have given their life protecting and defending the American freedoms that we all cherish.
CC:The Honorable Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Director, Office of Management and Budget