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Is Uncle Sam A Miser?

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Soon after the Tsunami disaster hit, Jan Egeland, the UN’s humanitarian chief called the US and other major western nations “stingy” for their low funding pledges towards disaster relief. While I think that whole incident was another example of the UN’s bias, I’m wondering if perhaps the title of “stingy” is true in the way we are treating our troops and their families.

In late December, Senator Allen (R-VA) released a statement to the press calling upon the US government to raise what they call the “Death Benefit” for families of soldiers who die in combat from a miserly $12,000 to a more appropriate $100.000. I think Senator Allen sums up the situation perfectly:

“I think the people of a grateful nation want to be able to help the families who lose their sons or daughters in defense of our freedoms. The current amount of $12,000 is a miserly and paltry amount that I strongly believe should be much higher. I look forward to working with my colleagues on this important issue when the 109th Congress convenes in January,” said Senator Allen.

Senator Allen is just now beginning an initiative to craft a bill to raise the death benefit to $100,000 and I think we need to voice our support for this effort in the loudest and clearest manner possible. If you aren’t convinced regarding the need for this kind of change, let me point something out to you:

Before our troops went into Iraq and tore the Saddam regime to pieces, Mr. Hussein was giving the families of suicide bombers $25,000 every time one of their sons or daughters died committing an act of terrorism. So, Scum-of-the-Earth Saddam was giving more than TWICE AS MUCH to families of people who were targeting innocent women and children in suicide bombings as we are giving to the families of our troops who are even now sacrificing themselves to put an end to terrorism forever.

What is wrong with this picture?!

First of all, thank you Senator Allen for bringing this issue into the light of day! God bless you for that.

Secondly, PLEASE contact your elected officials to voice your support for this bill. This bill must be passed as soon as possible.

Finally, please, when contacting your elected official, make sure you ask that this benefit be retroactively granted to all those who have already fallen during actions in both Afghanistan and Iraq. The families of those whose loved ones have died in the war on terror deserve this increased benefit.

I’ve said before and I’ll say again that our troops are the best of us. They put their lives on the line so that we can enjoy unprecedented freedom, and we have to give back to them appropriately for their courage, loyalty, and sacrifice.

Our troops have never failed us. Lets not fail them… Or their families.


David Flanagan

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  • As a 20 year Vet (US NAVY) I thank you for your concern. Buy the same token I believe both you and Senator Allen with his “miserly and paltry” comment are being misleading.

    While the Death Benefit is small (BTW, Bush raised it from $6K last year, and it is tax free), it is only a very small part of the benefits received. (full list here)

    The largest is Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI). The SGLI payment in the event of death is $200,000 (also tax free) unless the member elected a lesser amount or declined coverage in writing. Monthly cost for the vast majority of service members , those 18-25, is less than $15 dollars a month. Even at the higher age groups (also higher ranks) the rate is less than $40 dollars a month.

    I can attest that the number of service members that don’t enroll in this program is something less than 1%, and those that don’t, fall into the “Darwin Award” category.

    Again thanks for your concern, I just believe it is misplaced. I suggest you start a campaign to raise military basic pay by 20%-30% accross the board. Greater cost? Sure by a wide margin, but a greater benefit. One that helps all service members not just the families of the Fallen Hero’s.

  • Marc,

    Thanks for the comments and I’ve blogged on the issue of raising pay for servicemen and women before. Since national defense is one of the primary roles of the federal government, I believe that no expense should be spared for the military. Spent well, of course. And spending well means proper compensation.

    Which includes, in my opinion, matching reservists private industry pay when they are called to active duty for combat purposes. I hear too many stories of families struggling (about 1/3 of families according to a recent report), because the reservist is forced to take lower pay when they go active.

    I don’t think that should happen ever, and of course, I would support appropriate pay raises as well.

    Thanks again.