Colleen Hanabusa
Colleen Hanabusa

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, voted for a measure that ensures the families of U.S. servicemembers who are killed in combat receive death gratuity and other benefits from the Department of Defense during the government shutdown.

“When military families lose a loved one in combat, the last thing they should have to worry about at that painful moment is finances,” said Hanabusa. “When the Pay Our Military Act was signed into law, it was widely believed that the $100,000 Death Gratuity payment would be included in this bill; unfortunately, when the Department of Defense made its interpretation of the law, it was not. I was appalled to read yesterday’s news reports that said the families of our fallen heroes were being denied death benefits because of the government shutdown, and I am pleased Congress is taking swift action to fix this problem. These brave men and women gave their lives to protect our families; the least we can do is take care of theirs.”

Under the military Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP), the survivors of active duty personnel who are killed in combat are provided an annuity of $100,000. The Death Gratuity payment is intended to help cover costs until survivor benefits kick in. Family members are also allowed to stay at government quarters for free for 365 days or receive 365 days of Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) if they live in civilian housing.

The bill passed the House unanimously and now heads to the Senate.