Pentagon: Groups offered cash during government shutdown
Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY
A host of nonprofit groups provided nearly $1.1 million and offers of additional help when the government shutdown cut aid to troops and their relatives, most notably 29 families whose uniformed loved ones died during the closure — some in combat.
The largest commitment was $700,000 divided among 28 of the families by the Fisher House Foundation, a group that builds residences on military hospital grounds for use by the relatives of casualties. The foundation is waiting for contact information on the last family, says spokesperson Jody Fisher.
In addition, a small Long Island-based nonprofit that assists Army Rangers has paid out nearly $100,000, according to Robert Hotarek, president of Lead the Way Fund.
The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society provided more than $194,000 in financial assistance to 137 current or retired sailors, Marines and their families impacted by the shutdown, says Shelley Marshall, communications officer for the group. The money went for such expenses as travel costs for families visiting wounded or injured service members or traveling to Dover, Del. to meet remains of deceased troops, she said.
In many cases, groups expanded ongoing programs designed to offer military members emergency cash.
Army Emergency Relief provided $87,000 to 42 soldiers and their families during the shutdown for issues ranging from rental assistance to travel costs to moving expenses, says spokesman Guy Shields.
Lead the Way Fund stepped in after two Army Rangers, along with two other soldiers were killed during a night mission Oct. 6 against a compound in southern Afghanistan.
A suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest and other hidden bombs exploded as Rangers closed in during that assault on a compound, says Lt. Col. Brian DeSantis, a spokesman for the 75th Ranger Regiment.
The dead were Sgt. Patrick Hawkins, 25, of Carlisle, Pa., and Pfc. Cody Patterson, 24, of Philomath, Ore., both Rangers; and Sgt. Joseph Peters, 24, of Springfield Mo., a military police investigator; and 1st Lt. Jennifer Moreno, 25, of San Diego.
“Those (nonprofit) organizations — we, really, as the Ranger Regiment and, really, as a country owe them a debt of gratitude, because they were able to support four families that had just experienced a loss,” DeSantis says. “(They) banded together to make sure that four Gold Star families got everything they needed through that very difficult time.”
The Fisher House assistance was in the form of $25,000 “gifts” to those four families and the families of 25 other troops who died during the government shutdown from Oct. 1-16. Lead the Way Fund offered assistance for burial and/or travel costs for families of the four soldiers who died in Oct. 6 attack.
The shutdown prevented the Pentagon from providing an immediate $100,000 “death gratuity” to families of service members who died or were killed. Military funds for transporting families to meet the returned remains of their loved ones or to visit them at military hospitals were also canceled.
Congress eventually reinstated the death gratuity and other support payments before the shutdown ended.
The Pentagon this week identified eight other nonprofit groups that offered or provided assistance during the government shutdown. Officials in several of the groups said donors were clamoring to donate after hearing news of the suspended death gratuities.
Groups offering assistance included Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, which provided interest-free loans to furloughed Coast Guard federal civilian employees during the shutdown, said executive director Barry Boisvere. Others, according to the Pentagon, were the Dignity Memorial network of 1,800 funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers; the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, Air Force Aid Society and AmVets.
JPMorgan Chase also offered assistance during the shutdown. The financial institution previously founded a jobs hiring program that with a coalition of companies has hired 92,869 veterans since 2011, says spokesperson Shannon O’Reilly.
On behalf of Lead The Way Fund, we cannot thank all of our Army Ten-Miler runners enough for the incredible support and spirit displayed this weekend in DC. Everyone did an unbelievable job running and fundraising and we were honored to have all of you as part of Team Army Ranger. We hope to have you all on our team again next year!
Thanks for your support!
RANGERS LEAD THE WAY!
October 12, 2013
By MARTIN C. EVANS email@example.com
LI charity helps families of U.S. soldiers slain, hurt in Afghanistan attack
A Long Island charity has stepped in to cover funeral and other costs for the loved ones of American soldiers killed in an Oct. 6 attack in Afghanistan.
Since the attack, which killed four U.S. soldiers and seriously wounded more than a dozen others, the Manhasset-based Lead The Way Fund has provided some $50,000 in emergency cash to help the families of two of the soldiers make funeral arrangements, said founder James Regan.
Regan, of Manhasset, said the fund provided another $30,000 to help the loved ones of injured soldiers cover the travel, lodging and other costs incurred as they have rushed to military hospitals where the soldiers have been treated.
“There is a dramatic need to get this done,” said Regan, whose son, James, was killed in Iraq in 2007.
Families of troops slain in battle typically receive a $100,000 “death gratuity” from the federal government to help cover funeral and other costs not otherwise borne by the military. But until the Senate passed a bill Thursday lifting the shutdown ban on payments, families of the Oct. 6 bombing had to find a way to cover expenses on their own.
Regan said his charity has been offering assistance to the families of Army Rangers since his son, James, 26, a member of the Army’s 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Regiment, died in an Iraqi bomb blast.
So far, his organization has distributed more than $1 million in donated funds, Regan said.
“It’s to honor Jimmy, first of all,” Regan said. “To honor a son who served his country.”
Melissa Albaugh, a family coordinator with the 1st Ranger Battalion, in Savanna, Ga., said because members of military communities are bonded by the common experience of worrying about the safety of loved ones, they often depend on nonrelatives for support when tragedy strikes.
Since the government cannot legally pay for the expenses of nonrelatives, she said, funds from Lead The Way have frequently allowed grieving families to invite comforting friends along in their time of need.
For example, when his son was killed, Regan said the government paid costs incurred by the family, but not for James Regan’s fiancee, Mary McHugh. She had to pay her own way to his burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
“The military can’t cover the cost of a friend, who may be a vital part of your support network at an excruciatingly painful time in your life,” said Albaugh, whose husband was with Regan’s son when he was killed. He survived the blast.
“Lead The Way means you feel supported, and that people who understand what families are going through can be there,” she said.
Dear Friends and Supporters of Army Ranger Lead The Way Fund,
On behalf of Army Ranger Lead The Way Fund and the 75th Ranger Regiment, we would like to thank you for the outpouring of support for our Special Operations Army Rangers and their families. Since our inception in 2007, our Mission has been to fill the gaps that that government cannot for our wounded and disabled Rangers and for the families of Rangers who have paid the Ultimate Sacrifice. This is no exception.
This situation has just started to unfold. The needs for these wounded Warriors, and for the families of our Fallen Rangers, are going to be tremendous. It is our moral obligation to support them, even more so now that our government is unable to (or has chosen not to).
We are in constant contact with our liaisons in DC, at the Unites States Special Operation Command Care Coalition and with the 75th Ranger Regiment to ensure that they will all receive the support they need and deserve. We will be funding the funerals, and we can assure you that all of your donations are being appropriated in the proper manner to support the immediate needs and recovery of these Rangers of the 3rd Battalion B Co and their families.
God Bless our Rangers, God Bless their families and God Bless America.
RANGERS LEAD THE WAY!