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Military widow: Suspension of death benefits is 'wrong'

Posted October 9, 2013
Updated October 10, 2013

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— Nearly seven years have passed since Teresa Priestner’s husband, Army Chief Warrant Officer John Priestner, died in a helicopter crash in Iraq.

It’s been seven years since she and her two daughters longed to be there when his coffin arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where the bodies and remains of service men and women killed overseas are received.

“That’s what I wanted,” said Priestner, who lives near Spring Lake in Harnett County. “I wanted it so badly, and I fought hard for it, along with other wives that weren’t able to. And we made that happen, and now that’s taken away from us.”

Each family of a fallen warrior receives a $100,000 benefit from the government to pay for funeral and travel expenses. It also covers the in-between time from the end of a military salary to the start of survivor benefits.

"Without it, I couldn’t have buried my husband,” Priestner said.

That benefit became a casualty of the partial government shutdown – at least for a few days. The U.S. House voted unanimously Wednesday to restore those payments, and the Senate is expected to act on the bill soon. military Bragg widow critical of gov't lapse on military death benefits

Initially, Congress had passed a bill to pay the military during the stalemate, but the Defense Department warned the death benefit would vanish if not specifically addressed.

It wasn’t, and that was an inexcusable oversight for Teresa Priestner.

“It should never be an oversight for when these guys go over there, put their lives in danger and get killed,” she said. “There’s been 11 families since this shutdown that have not received those benefits, and that’s wrong.”

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Wednesday that the government has partnered with the Fisher House Foundation to provide families with the full set of benefits, including the $100,000 payment. He said he was "offended, outraged, and embarrassed" about the lapse.

66 Comments

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  • mrbamker Oct 17, 8:56 a.m.

    obama administration......garbage in....garbage out....

  • senex Oct 10, 7:19 p.m.

    JustAName,

    However you count it, more votes for Democrats in house elections in 2012 where the GOP ran on the issue of Obamacare. There is NO branch of elected government that the GOP had a majority of the votes in 2012.

    And yet this minority of the People's Will act like they are the only act in town. What Hubris!

  • JustAName Oct 10, 3:37 p.m.

    "Only the Senate and President are popular votes, so the GOP are only in power due to Gerrymandering alone." - senex

    This statement should prevent you from commenting on any future discussions about politics.

    I know someone else pointed out the President being elected by the Electoral college, which may or may not be decided by how many votes received in a state.

    The Senate used to be elected by the State congress, until the 17th Amendment was foolishly introduced and may or may not have been ratified legally.

    But, the best part of your statement is "Gerrymandering". The majority of that district still voted the person in. The majority voted the people in who decided on the district as well. Which means that the majority didn't like how things were before, making that view the minority.

  • junkmail5 Oct 10, 2:36 p.m.

    Medical care, whether one has insurance or not, is covered by the AMA. If a doctor or hospital denies care, they violate their oath.
    IWontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves

    uh.. what?

    EMERGENCY care can't be denied.

    But just try walking into a doctors office and demanding a checkup "because it's covered by the AMA" regardless of ability to pay.

    Make sure whoever you call from jail has bail money.

    When one either gets it or gets fined for not getting it, that is FORCED. Why? Because they have no choice but one or the other.
    IWontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves

    There's several ways to avoid paying the tax of course (and even a couple to avoid owing it in the first place)

  • TMWSIY Oct 10, 2:28 p.m.

    This story being put out by the press hurts the GOP base, all i'm saying if more people have coverage and options to affordable care, my and your premiums go down. HAve you seen an ER visits itemized bill? Then tell them you want to pay cash, look at that bill. Have you ever had a real emergency and had to sit in an ER for 3 hours while your child is in desperate need of critical care? (But can't get seen timely due to volume of people coming in w/ a headcold) The system is broken, people know it, do something about it.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Oct 10, 2:25 p.m.

    I can't believe some of you are arguing politics when this story has to do with families who lost loved ones who served overseas who are now being delayed in getting death benefits.

    It's unconscionable any GOOD government would do this - Republican or Democratic, or any other government.

    Stay on topic. k

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Oct 10, 2:20 p.m.

    senex - "Only the Senate and President are popular votes, so the GOP are only in power due to Gerrymandering alone."

    ROFLOL LOL LOL

    You need to study this subject again.

    The President is elected by the electoral votes cast in the Electoral College which CAN have nothing whatsoever to do with popular votes cast by the people, and often doesn't.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Oct 10, 2:17 p.m.

    jscott - "And it is not forced...Congress passed it, fair and square!!"

    That's the way Congress biased all the news coverage on this. It IS forced.

    When one either gets it or gets fined for not getting it, that is FORCED. Why? Because they have no choice but one or the other.

  • DontVote4LiarsCheatsOrThieves Oct 10, 2:15 p.m.

    TMWSIY - "You are FORCED to have car insurance, home owners insurance if you have a mortgage -- whats wrong w/ health insurance?"

    Might want to study what's taught in Social Studies class a little more.

    Those are privilege taxes - no one is guaranteed the right to drive or own a home. Those taxes are the fee for those privileges.

    Medical care, whether one has insurance or not, is covered by the AMA. If a doctor or hospital denies care, they violate their oath.

  • senex Oct 10, 2:13 p.m.

    In 2012 the Americans voted more for Democrat House members by a margin of 1.5 million more votes. Democrats actually won the popular vote on House, Senate and President.

    Only the Senate and President are popular votes, so the GOP are only in power due to Gerrymandering alone.

    So to act like they are doing the "will of the people" when they are actually an illegitimate branch of government considering the ACTUAL Will-of-the-People is galling to say the least.

    Boehner is acting out "Minority Rules" here too because a clean bill would win due to enough Republican defectors.

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