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Families Of Fallen Soldiers Hit Hard By Government Shutdown

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The shutdown in Washington continues. And families of fallen soldiers are being hit especially hard.

Jessica Kartalija spoke with a Maryland widow who is concerned over the threat of the end of veteran benefits.

Military widows affected by the shutdown say it isn't just impacting them financially, but emotionally as well.

Major David Yaggy was 34 when he died in flight training.

"Bad weather in a mountain. They didn't see it," said Erin Yaggy, wife.

For five and a half years, his wife Erin and their daughter, Lizzy, have received survivor benefits--paid monthly to families of fallen soldiers.

"Having that financial support was part of our security and helping us get through this so that we can move on and take positive steps for our future," she said.

Now, due to the government shutdown, the Department of Veterans Affairs says they will be unable to issue pension checks.

"It was a financial security blanket, if you will, for people to get this assistance each month so they can take care of children if they have them," Yaggy said. "To know the support isn't there, it's scary."

The shutdown is affecting a number of benefits provided to those who recently lost a loved one.

While Congress did vote to restore immediate death benefits for families of fallen soldiers, it did not restore a monthly VA check many widows and widowers depend on.

"People are not sleeping. More than one has said that they are really struggling," said Yaggy.

As for the anxiety caused by the shutdown:

"It feels like a slap in the face because our husbands gave their lives for the country," she continued. "It doesn't feel like a 'thank you for your service.'"

The Fisher House Foundation, Navy-Marine Crops Relief Society, Army Emergency Relief and others have stepped forward to help newly bereaved military families during the government shutdown.

Major Yaggy, who graduated from Gilman, was a pilot and flight instructor serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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