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Mr. COLLINS of Georgia. I rise today in strong support of H.J. Res. 91. Yesterday the Department of Defense issued a press release saying the Pentagon does not have the authority to pay death gratuities for the survivors of service members killed in action. This is beyond unacceptable.
Prior to the end of the fiscal year this body passed the Pay Our Military Act, giving the Secretary of Defense plenty of latitude on prioritizing military pay and allowances to Service Members.
This act was understood to provide for death benefits to families of fallen troops during the government shutdown.
I add my voice to the cacophony of frustrated colleagues in disbelief. We are flabbergasted that the Death Gratuity, which provides surviving family members $100,000 in death benefits, was not brought to our attention sooner.
Our office received a phone call from a constituent yesterday who was enraged that military families were no longer receiving these benefits.
Having deployed as a chaplain in the Air Force Reserves, I have been in those life altering situations where the loss of life uproots a family's sense of normalcy.
The immediate days after learning of a service member's death are critical for a bereaving family. Knowing the cost of burial and other after life care is provided for makes the situation a little more bearable.
I plead with this Congress to not turn this issue into one of our normal political footballs where we punt the issue from one body to the next. Let us decide now to take care of our citizens who have offered up their sons and daughters, husbands and wives to the defense of our Nation.
Today this body will choose the moral imperative and tell the families who have lost it all, your cries are being heard and your broken hearts have moved our Chamber into action.
I implore the House with the strongest conviction I possess to move on this legislation and return military families back to focus on rebuilding their lives.
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