Now that the government is finally on the path to reinstating payments to the families of fallen servicemembers, those families no longer have to rely on the nonprofit Fisher House for their expected $100,000 "death gratuity" during the government shutdown. But since several families' payments were delayed during the shutdown, the Fisher House has decided to send an immediate gift of $25,000 to each of those families to cover their immediate needs.
The $25,000 payments will not be reimbursed by the government and should be considered a gift from the Fisher House and a grateful nation, the Maryland-based nonprofit told CBS News.
Typically, the survivors of servicemembers killed in action receive a cash payment of $100,000 from the Defense Department, in part to cover expenses like funeral arrangements. However, after the government shut down on Oct. 1, the Defense Department said it no longer had the legal authority to make those payments. At least 29 active-duty service members have died since Oct. 1.
After significant outcry over the delayed payments, the Fisher House stepped up to assist the families. On Wednesday the Defense Department announced it had: the nonprofit would make the full payments to the affected families with the promise of reimbursement from the government.
Yet just a day later, the issue appeared to be resolved when President Obamaexplicitly authorizing the Pentagon to make "death gratuity" payments even during the shutdown.
Meanwhile, even though Congress has now authorized the Defense Department to make those payments, and has allowed most department employees to return to work through the Pay Our Military Act, the department insists that it's still suffering fromas a result of the shutdown.