HomeNewsArticle Display

Fisher House steps forward to aid DOD in paying death benefits

WASHINGTON -- The Fisher House Foundation has stepped in to aid the Defense Department so families of fallen service members can receive the full set of benefits they have been promised, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said here today.

The Fisher House Foundation and DOD entered an agreement that includes the $100,000 death gratuity payment.

"I am offended, outraged, and embarrassed that the government shutdown had prevented the Department of Defense from fulfilling this most sacred responsibility in a timely manner," Hagel said in a written statement.

In the weeks before the shutdown, defense officials had warned Congress that the ability to pay death benefits to grieving families would run out when the appropriations lapsed.

"The Department of Defense informed Congress that the department would be legally unable to pay death benefits were there to be a lapse in DOD appropriations," White House press secretary Jay Carney said during his daily briefing today.

The issue was not explicitly addressed as part of the Pay Our Military Act. "The president was very disturbed to learn of this problem, and he directed the Department of Defense to work with the Office of Management and Budget and his lawyers to develop a possible solution and he expects this ... to be fixed today," Carney said.

Since the shutdown began Oct. 1, DOD budget officials looked at options to continue these benefits, Hagel said. "Even under the Pay Our Military Act, we found that we lacked the necessary authority to make payments to the families directly," the secretary said.

The Fisher House Foundation offered to make payments to these families from its own funds, and OMB officials determined DOD can enter into a contract with the Fisher House Foundation to provide these benefits.

"The Fisher House Foundation will provide the families of the fallen with the benefits they so richly deserve," Hagel said. "After the shutdown ends, DOD will reimburse the Fisher House for the costs it has incurred."

The Fisher House Foundation is best known for the houses built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers nationwide and in Europe. Families of wounded or hospitalized service members stay at the houses as their loved ones undergo hospitalization for a combat injury, illness or disease.

A total of 26 service members have died since Oct. 1, including five killed in combat in Afghanistan. The $100,000 death gratuity comes from appropriated funds, and DOD could not obligate funds once the fiscal year 2013 appropriation ran out. The department also cannot pay the benefit that provides 12 months of basic allowance for housing, as that money also comes via appropriated funds.

"The department has no higher priority than taking care of our service members and their families," Hagel said. "Congress has responsibilities as well, and it has abdicated them.

"Along with the rest of the department's leaders," he continued, "I will continue to work every day to address the very real impact that the government shutdown is having on our people, and I once again call on Congress to fulfill its basic responsibilities and restore funding for the federal government."
USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.