Connolly urges protection for Coast Guard death gratuities in event of government shutdown

Coast Guard death gratuities
Credit: W.Scott McGill

Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) sent a bipartisan, bicameral letter to House and Senate Appropriators urging them to protect Coast Guard death gratuities in the event of another government shutdown.

“The longstanding purpose of the death gratuity payment is to assist families of deceased servicemembers in meeting their financial needs during the period immediately following a loved one’s death and before other survivor benefits become available,” the members wrote.  “We were disturbed to hear that families of Coast Guard members killed in action during a government shutdown would be denied the death benefits they were promised.  In light of this injustice, we believe Congress should take action to safeguard grieving Coast Guard families.”

“These benefits should never be subject to government inaction. We must ensure that our nation always meets its sacred obligation to the families of our fallen servicemembers.  We urge your support for funding Coast Guard death gratuities during government shutdowns in the FY2020 Homeland Security Appropriations bill,” the members added.

The Families of Fallen Servicemembers First Act was introduced to provide death gratuities for servicemembers of the other branches of the military during a government shutdown and included in the FY2019 Department of Defense Appropriations bill. However, because the Coast Guard is covered under the Homeland Security Appropriations bill, death gratuity benefits are not currently included in the event of a government shutdown.

Full text of the letter is available here.

augusta free press news