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Retroactive to the 1st day of Afghanistan:

$250,000 military death benefit proposed
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - President Bush will propose a dramatic increase to $250,000 in government payments to families of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and in future combat zones.

The plan to increase the tax-free "death gratuity," now $12,420, to $100,000 and provide an extra $150,000 in life insurance payouts will be part the 2006 budget proposal submitted to Congress next week, the Pentagon's personnel chief said in an Associated Press interview. Veterans groups and many in Congress have been pushing for such increases.

"We think the nation ought to make a larger one-time payment, quite apart from insurance, should you be killed in a combat area of operations," David Chu, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said in the interview in his Pentagon office.

"We can never in any program give someone back their loved one," he added. "There is nothing we can do about the hurt, to make it go away. But we can make your circumstances reasonable, in terms of finances."

Chu is to unveil the administration's full proposal in congressional testimony Tuesday.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who is sponsoring a bill with the same provisions, said in an interview that the first-year budget cost of the increased benefits would be $459 million, including more than $280 million in retroactive payments of the higher gratuity and the extra life insurance settlements.

"The American people want to be generous to the families of service people who give their lives for their country. It's not a nickel-and-dime issue," he said.

In addition to the higher gratuity, the Pentagon would substantially increase life insurance benefits, Chu said. The current $250,000 coverage offered to all service members at a subsidized rate under the Servicemen's Group Life Insurance program would be raised to $400,000, and for troops in a combat zone the government would pay the premiums on the extra $150,000 coverage.

Even in the case of a service member who did not participate in the basic life insurance program, the surviving spouse would receive a $150,000 settlement if the death happened in a designated combat zone, since the Pentagon is proposing to pay the premiums on that amount of coverage for everyone in a war zone. The spouse or other surviving family member also would get the $100,000 gratuity.

Chu said that the extra $150,000 in life insurance and the higher death gratuity would be retroactive to Oct. 7, 2001, the date the United States launched its invasion of Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Some bills in Congress would make the higher gratuity retroactive but not the extra life insurance.

Under the administration's proposal, the 53 military members who were killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon would not get the higher gratuity, a spokeswoman said.

As of today, 1,415 Americans had died in the Iraq war, according to the Pentagon's count, and 156 had died in Afghanistan and other locations deemed part of the war on terrorism.

The death gratuity is a one-time payment intended to be given to the family immediately after a service member's death; it is separate from an array of other survivor benefits such as housing aid.

The $100,000 would apply only in cases where the service member died in a war zone as designated by the secretary of defense. Thus a soldier killed in a training accident in the United States would get the current $12,420, Chu said. Some in Congress have proposed paying an increased gratuity for all deaths.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, defense officials decided that the current death payment for troops killed in battle was too little, particularly in light of settlements paid to Sept. 11 families. The government paid an average $2.1 million to the families of those killed in those attacks.

In 2003 the military gratuity was doubled, from $6,000, where it had stood since 1991, to $12,000, with subsequent increases to account for inflation, bringing it to $12,420 on Jan. 1, 2005. The 2003 legislation also made the payment fully tax-free. Before that, half was taxable.

Lawmakers in both the House and Senate have introduced bills to raise both the gratuity and the life insurance coverage, reflecting a broader trend of more generous military benefit programs, including financial benefits for military retirees, their survivors and families of those killed in battle.

These changes are adding billions to defense budgets and raising questions about whether increasingly costly entitlements are forcing the Pentagon to forgo some investments in weapons programs.

Chu said he was concerned that in recent years Congress had gone too far in expanding military retiree benefits, but he said the proposed increase in survivor benefits was well justified.

Bigger military benefits that apply mainly to retirees and their families are making it harder for the Pentagon to afford financial incentives targeted at maintaining today's military, Chu said.

"They are starting to crowd out two things: first, our ability to reward the person who is bearing the burden right now in Iraq or Afghanistan," Chu said. "(Second), we are undercutting our ability to finance the new gear that is going to make that military person successful five, ten, 15 years from now."
 

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Screw that, cant afford more spending. (puts flame suit on) Call me cold hearted, but what happened to fiscal responsibility? It seems like he is trying more and more every day to turn this into the military era. Spend so much on deffense--i heard they just boosted the reservists funding, now they wanna boost funds for this sh*t 2...
 

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It's just another attempt to raise morale for the war - with money you can buy everything...

And the money will probably be coughed up by those that already have a hard time making it through another day, or rather by cutting expenses to alleviate their situation - as usual...
 

· .pocketful of sunshine.
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Im for it if we can get the funding for it. If not, theres no reason why our country needs to be put in even more debt.

You cant cut taxes and raise money hand outs...just doesnt make sense. But, I guess we'll see.
 

· Danse Macabre!
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Judazzz said:
It's just another attempt to raise morale for the war - with money you can buy everything...

And the money will probably be coughed up by those that already have a hard time making it through another day, or rather by cutting expenses to alleviate their situation - as usual...

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Not likely Judazz, those kinds of things would piss off voters when they've suddenly got less money or programs, and even though you can't be re-elected you still would like to leave on a high note. Bush will just do what he's always done, run even deeper in the red and go for another record deficit year.
 

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elTwitcho said:
Not likely Judazz, those kinds of things would piss off voters when they've suddenly got less money or programs, and even though you can't be re-elected you still would like to leave on a high note. Bush will just do what he's always done, run even deeper in the red and go for another record deficit year.
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I doubt that the ones most important to Bush and his party, and the ones most capable of carrying the burden (the wealthy Texnocrates with the big $$$) are the ones that will actually fund those plans...

I'm the last person to say that those that risk their asses abroad for the sake of their country don't deserve a good reward for their services. But it shouldn't be paid by those that can't miss any money in the first place. But sadly enough that's usually the way things go - and not just in the US...
 

· ~ATLANTA BRAVES~
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Ms_Nattereri said:
Im for it if we can get the funding for it. If not, theres no reason why our country needs to be put in even more debt.

You cant cut taxes and raise money hand outs...just doesnt make sense. But, I guess we'll see.
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Thats the problem there is no real way to get funding for it other then taking on another 100 billion to the national debt.
 

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aaron07_20 said:
I say pull all of the fuckin troops out of iraq then you wont have to worry about death benefits..let other countries deal with that sh*t why do we always have to do the dirty work...
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Because the babies out there will then say "america started this sh*t....why dont they clean it up?" or "those bastard abandoned the iraqis"....and also b/c if we leave now, nobody has the balls to stand up and lead. The iraqis can/will feel betrayed and we'll see more terrorism. If we stay well, we're already hearing it. Basically, the crybabies out there just are finding things to whine about. They all like to criticize about how bad america is and how they're solving probs in the world but have NO idea themselves for alternatives.

*back on topic, this is a good idea in general..losing the probable main breadwinner is hard...only $12,000 doesn't go far. If they can find a way to fund this great, if not, lower it a little*
 

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Filo is a flaming patriot bandwagon liberal
 

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jonscilz said:
i cant stand flaming liberals and i cant stand the patriots and their fans = i cant stand filo

E-A-G-L-E-S EAGLES
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PATRIOTS WILL PWN!!!!!!!!

Jewelz said:
Filo is a flaming patriot bandwagon liberal
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I dont nod and smile every time Bush says something, is that a crime?
 
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