ICYMI: Rep. Wilson Urges Secretary of Defense to Follow Pay Our Military Act
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), Chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel today sent two letters to Secretary of Defense Hagel on support to our troops and their families during the government shutdown. The letters address the crisis at America's military academies, some of which face losing their accreditation because of shutdown cutbacks. They also address certain pay and benefits, including the Death Gratuity, which is not being paid. All of these functions are allowed under the Pay Our Military Act, a law passed unanimously by Congress and signed by the President this week. Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, commented on the letters:
"It is outrageous that the President has temporarily halted death benefits for fallen Americans who have given the ultimate sacrifice. I am no less concerned that restrictions on our military academies puts the next generation of heroes at risk. Congress provided the President broad latitude to keep these programs running through a shutdown. I am grateful to Chairman Wilson for raising this issue. I urge the President to use the authorities he has been granted to do right by our troops and our cadets. Certain things should transcend politics. The responsibilities of Commander-in-Chief sit atop that list."
Congressman Wilson said:
"The Department of Defense's refusal to pay the death gratuity or burial benefit is inexcusable. The grieving families of our service members who have paid the ultimate sacrifice defending our country deserve these benefits. It was Congress' intent when we passed the "Pay Our Military Act" that these benefits be provided without question to our military families. This decision confirms that the Administration is trying to inflict as much pain as possible on our nation's most vulnerable people during the government shutdown. The decision by DoD to furlough civilian faculty at the military academies is unacceptable. The Naval Academy is in jeopardy of losing its long term academic accreditation and the education of our midshipmen is being harmed. I urge the Administration to allow the civilian faculty to return to work immediately."
View the letters here.