Reporting Derek Valcourt
ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — A Maryland-based charitable organization steps up to help those impacted by the government shutdown at a time of devastating loss.
Derek Valcourt explains it provided financial help to families of military members who died in the line of duty.
The Fisher House Foundation in Rockville did what the government would normally do if it were open–cut $100,000 checks to the families of service members killed in combat.
The body of 24-year-old Cody Patterson returns to Dover Air Force Base. His life–one of those lost in combat over the weekend in Afghanistan–along with Army Ranger Patrick Hawkins, First Lieutenant Jennifer Moreno and Lance Corporal Jeremiah Collins.
Their deaths come amid a controversy over suspended death benefits to the families of fallen military service members. The government shutdown is preventing the Pentagon from sending the customary $100,000 gratuity check to the fallen soldiers’ families.
“Republican, Democrat, no matter who we are, shouldn’t we be embarrassed about this? Shouldn’t we be ashamed?” said Sen. John McCain, (R) Arizona.
Late Thursday night, the president signed a bill reinstating the death benefit. However, Maryland-based Fisher House Foundation stepped in to help the fallen soldiers’ families where the shut down government did not.
“This is not their fault that their loved one died after Oct. 1. Not their fault at all,” said Cindy Campbell, Fisher House Foundation.
The Fisher House Foundation’s Cindy Campbell tells WJZ they were rushing to provide the grieving families with the $100,000 in death benefits they were promised to help with things like funeral and travel expenses and more.
“The spouses that are left behind are not going to stay at that base. They have to move. They’re going to go home to their family. This death gratuity benefit helps them get home, it helps them establish a new life back in their hometown,” Campbell said.
The government is expected to reimburse the Fisher House Foundation once the government shutdown ends.
While at least five members of the military died in combat over the weekend, more than 20 have died from other causes since the shutdown. Those families will also receive their death benefit checks.