While I see merit in thwarting corporate welfare, why is it that Democrats vote for war and then fuck their warriors????
Posted on Tue, Mar. 18, 2003
Military families lose benefit
BY JACQUELINE L. SALMON
Washington Post Service
WASHINGTON - When House Republican leaders last week pulled back a bill that had become loaded with $300 million in special-interest tax breaks, one little-noticed provision of the legislation vanished with it: an improved tax break for the families of military personnel killed in battle.
It was a setback for organizations representing military families, which have fought for years for the provision. It would have eliminated all taxes on a $6,000 special payment the military makes to the survivors of a service member killed in combat. Currently, $3,000 of that amount, called a ''death gratuity'' by some, is tax-free.
The effort to broaden the tax break is part of a campaign by groups representing military dependents to improve the package of benefits for survivors of military personnel, including reservists, who die on active duty.
In addition to the $6,000 to cover immediate expenses for the family, the government pays burial costs and provides monthly compensation to the spouse and each child under 18, as well as healthcare coverage for the family, six months of free housing or help with housing costs, and part of the service member's retirement pay. The benefits -- which come from the Department of Defense, the Veterans Administration and the Social Security Administration -- include help with education costs for the spouse and children, as well as an income tax break for at least one year.
The value of the overall package depends on several factors, including the length of military service and age of the deceased.
The Navy Mutual Aid Association calculates that the family -- say, a widow and two young children -- of a petty officer with 10 years' service who is killed in action can expect a monthly benefit of $3,327. For the family of a Navy lieutenant killed in combat, the amount climbs to $4,795 a month.
The military also offers life-insurance coverage of up to $250,000 that service members can purchase at a modest cost. Private insurance for service members facing combat would cost substantially more.
Organizations that represent military families say the compensation package has improved in recent years.
For example, life-insurance coverage has risen to $250,000 from $100,000. Still, these groups say, more needs to be done.
The $250,000 life insurance, for example, is far lower than what is available to private-sector employees in less dangerous occupations. Some military support groups want it raised to $1 million.
In addition, they say, the government needs to improve both educational benefits for family members and job-hunting assistance to spouses.
The bill before Congress, which contained $200 million in tax breaks for military families, was withdrawn after Democrats objected to the number of special-interest tax breaks that Republican House leaders had permitted to be included.