Military Death Benefits, Separation Pay On Hold - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Military Death Benefits, Separation Pay On Hold

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The first full weekend of October was a deadly one in Afghanistan, but the families of the fallen won't get financial help from the Military until the budget battle ends.

Deployed troops are in the midst of fighting season overseas, but the financial gridlock in Washington has $100,000 death gratuity payments on hold.

"My children have nobody to depend on but me," says Army Specialist and single mother of five Holli Sroka.

She calls the death benefits a "safety blanket."

"God forbid if I lost my life, I would want to make sure that there is something there that's going to take care of them," Holli said.

The money is usually paid within 24 hours of death to help families get through the initial hardship of losing an income.

But during the shutdown, finance offices are only paying basic pay and allowances.

"We are driving on as far as our casualty operations, we're still continuing with the military funeral honors that we send out, we're still processing all the casualty cases, as normal," said Marlean Druce, Installation Adjutant General at Fort Hood.

The House of Representatives is drafting a bill to pay grieving families and expects to take it to a vote on Wednesday.

Separation Pay is also delayed by the shutdown.

Tuesday was Specialist John McKinnon's last day in the Army, but he won't get his separation check until Congress has a budget for it.

"And interviews and jobs I had back home in Massachusetts, I had to call and put that on hold," said John.

If he had that money, John and his wife would already be moving their large family.

"When it comes to traveling across the country, I have two kids, plus both my parents, my dependents, it costs a lot of money to move all my household goods," he said.

About 2,200 soldiers in-process and out-process at Fort Hood each month, many of them now in a holding pattern.

"We just kind of gotta stick it out here, hope for the best, luckily I have a little bit of reserved money," said John.

Reporter: Sophia Stamas sstamas@kcentv.com

Photographer: Chris Buford cbuford@kcentv.com

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