“A national disgrace,” is how the head of the nation’s largest organization of wartime veterans characterized the White House’s opposition to legislation passed by the House and the Senate which would restore the death benefits to the families of fallen military service members.
“Even in the atmosphere of extreme gridlock that currently exists in Congress, both the House and the Senate, in a rare spirit of bipartisanship, have agreed that these benefits must be restored at once,” said Daniel M. Dellinger, national commander of the 2.4-million member American Legion. “Today, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney called the legislation a ‘gimmick.’ We strongly disagree. It is a sacred obligation.”
Dellinger praised the Fisher Foundation for temporarily paying the benefits, but stressed that it is the responsibility of the federal government to fund such obligations. “The generosity shown by the Fisher Foundation is truly amazing,” he said. “But President Lincoln promised to ‘care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.’ Today the president has made a mockery of that promise.”
Dellinger plans to hold a press conference at the Indiana War Memorial Tuesday afternoon to address the issue and other areas impacted by the government shutdown. This follows an earlier appearance by Dellinger and other Legionnaires at the national World War II Memorial last week.
The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and patriotic youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through nearly 14,000 posts across the nation.