Grieving families of fallen U.S. service members had to confront a staggering financial burden brought on by a change in policy that creates obstacles in honoring their loved ones. An amendment to last year’s National Defense Authorization Act has barred the Department of Defense from providing those grieving families with a commercial air travel waiver for the transportation of deceased remains of military members who was killed inside a theater of combat operations.
Recently, one of the 13 Gold Star families that died from the airport attack during the Afghanitan withdrawal were struggling to get the body of Marine Corp Sgt. Nicole L. Gee to Arlington National Cemetery, and the Defense Department was not willing to pay for transportation costs that were estimated at around $60,000.
Republican Rep. Cory Mills, R-Fla., met with the Gold Star families last week and was “enraged” to learn of the “heavy financial burden” the Defense Department placed on this family. Mills said the responsibility should fall on the Defense Department and that the families of fallen heroes should never have to shoulder the burden of navigating the process and bearing a “staggering $60,000” cost.
Fortunately, a nonprofit organization stepped in to help this particular family and moved Gee’s body to its final resting place with dignity and honor. However, questions concerning the current policy remain and the hardship it causes the grieving families. Christy Shamblin, mother-in-law of Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, highlighted the difficulty her son had navigating the process while being in shock from the loss of his wife.
A Pentagon spokesperson recently announced that no cost or pending requests for reimbursement for the transportation of Gee’s remains were issued or noted. Rep. Cory Mills is hoping to rectify the current situation and ensure that this never happens to another grieving family again.
In a statement released by Honoring Our Fallen, founder Laura Herzog said her organization was “honored to work directly with Sgt. Nichole Gee’s family.”“The Marine Corps flew her remains to California so the people of Sacramento could pay her their respect,” Herzog said. “Sgt Gee’s family then decided they wanted her interred in Arlington National Cemetery. To avoid having Sgt. Gee’s remains be transported via a commercial airline, I personally secured an in-kind donation of a flight in a private aircraft. Sergeant Gee’s family accepted the donation of a flight and Honoring Our Fallen, as a non-profit 501 (c3), accepted the in-kind donation.”
Herzog said no “monies were exchanged or expected to be paid by our organization or the family.”
“This was a donation made by a veteran who donated this service to us to assist us in honoring Sgt. Gee,” Herzog said. “We are proud of our support to Sgt. Gee and her family. It takes a village and I am proud of our communities that came together to honor and support her sacrifice.”
It was the Biden administration that was directly responsible for the mess that took place during the withdrawal and then they pull some nonsense like this.