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Shutdown Delays Benefits to Families of War Dead

By Julian E. Barnes and Allison Prang, Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON — Family members of four Americans killed in combat in Afghanistan over the weekend won’t be flown at government expense to Dover Air Force Base to view the return of the soldier’s bodies to the U.S., a result of the government shutdown which also will delay death benefit payments to the families.

The bodies of the four soldiers will arrive at Dover tomorrow, according to military officials.

Normally, the Pentagon pays airfare so that families can be present for transfer ceremonies at Dover, where U.S. troops killed in action are returned home. But because of the shutdown, the Defense Department is not allowed to pay the travel costs.

The Pentagon also pays families a $100,000 death gratuity when troops are killed in combat, and provides burial benefits as reimbursement for funeral and internment costs.

Because of the shutdown, however, the death gratuity and burial benefits will be delayed until the Pentagon has legal authority to pay them. Officials said the money would be paid when the government restarts.

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