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October 10th, 2013
05:51 AM ET

Pentagon Strikes Deal With Charity To Pay Military Death Benefits

The news was devastating for Shannon and Jeremiah Collins: Their 19-year-old son, Marine Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Collins Jr., died in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

Then it got worse.

The Milwaukee, Wisconsin, couple learned the survivor benefit paid to the families of fallen troops for burial and other expenses had been suspended because of the government shutdown.

Her sadness, Shannon Collins says, was compounded by worry and questions about how to pay off the debt.

It's a question that embarrassed and outraged government officials, who scrambled to find a way to provide the survivor benefits to the families of 26 troops who have died since the shutdown began on October 1.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon struck a deal with a private charity to ensure families of fallen troops are paid the survivor benefits, which include a $100,000 payment made within days of the death, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said.

The government will reimburse the Maryland-based Fisher House Foundation once the shutdown is over, Hagel said in a written statement.

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