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2/01/2005

Death a Benefit?

Now the Bush administration wants soldiers to get a benefit from being killed in action, however one would have to be killed in specific places in order to reap the biggest benefit. I realize that criticism of this plan will probably end up with me being called treasonous or something like that, but so much about this plans just strikes me as odd.

First of all, I do appreciate very much all the sacrifices those young men and women make for our country. I don't happen to agree that they need to be making those sacrifices in this war, but I nonetheless recognize and appreciate those sacrifices. I certainly don't think that a family of a soldier killed in action should have to get money together for final expenses. I agree we need to help these families the best we can.

That said, here are the high points of
Bush's plan:

"A tax-free "death gratuity," now $12,420, would grow to $100,000. The government also would pay for $150,000 in life insurance for troops. Veterans groups and many in Congress have been pushing for such increases." Now that extra $150,000 in life insurance is on top of $250,000 in life insurance that troops already have. So, if you die in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan, your family will receive the tidy sum of $500,000! That's right, a half a million if you die.

"Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who is sponsoring a bill with the same provisions, said yesterday that the first-year 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 payouts. "The American people want to be generous to the families of service people who give their lives for their country," he said."

Under the plan, only those service members who die in Iraq or Afghanistan would be eligible for this increased benefit. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) thinks that the money should, "apply to all service members on active duty" who die and not just those who die in Pentagon-designated combat zones. Another good point.

According the a
Defense Department website, an enlisted soldier with 2 years of experience on active duty makes $1235.10 per month. That's a huge sum of $14,821.20 per year. Now they also get housing allowances and retirement savings, but they are taking home 14K per year. Going on the assumption that most of those killed in the War on Terror have 2 years or less active duty experience and are enlisted men or women, that means that we are telling those brave soldiers that they are worth roughly 33 times more to us dead than alive.

I mean I think it's great to take care of the military, but lets use some of that $459 million to actually keep them alive in the first place. How about some body armor or some armored vehicles? Why not pay them a little more while they are actually alive?

The really crazy part is that only those killed in Iraq or Afghanistan rate this star treatment. Maybe it's the Middle East. I mean a suicide bomber gets 27 virgins in heaven and a US Marine gets a half million buck for his family. What do you tell the kids of a soldier killed someplace else by hostile fire? "Sorry, your Daddy was a second-rate soldier who didn't even die in Iraq. So take your $12,000 and run along now. I see some kids of an Iraqi casualty just over there."

Again, I think it's great to pay premiums for life insurance for soldiers and even to pay for final expenses, but I would think that $400,000 in life insurance money would be plenty in addition to $12,000 for final expenses. I'm sure I'm wrong about this, I'm sure I'm a traitor, but this whole thing just seems crazy to me.

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