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ABERDEEN, Md. (WUSA9) -- Late Wednesday afternoon the Pentagon announced a non-profit group will restore death benefits for military families.

This follows national outrage that families of fallen soldiers are being denied benefits because of the government shutdown.

Danielle Charles received a $100,000 check when her husband died. She says it made all the difference in the world during their time of grief.

"When you get the death notification everything shatters you are in a state of shock."

Danielle Charles had a 16-month old boy and a newborn girl when she found out the worst news of her life.

"I was coming home from my daughter's one month doctor's appointment and I came home to officers waiting for me."

Her husband, Senior Airmen Gilnord Charles, had collapsed and died while on a one day leave of absence from Dover Air Force Base to try out for the Baltimore Police Department.

Within days she received the death benefit check.

"It allowed us to not worry about how we were going to have a funeral. How are we going to bury him, pay the bills. I have two babies, to buy Pampers how am I going to do this at this time?"

The military death benefit arrives within three days. It helps pay for funeral costs and living expenses until survivor benefits kick in, but Danielle was on medical leave, because of her newborn, when she was suppose to sign for renewal of health benefits. So didn't have life insurance.

This week, families were denied the military death benefit because of the government shutdown as their loved ones arrived at Dover Air Force Base in flag draped caskets. A place, ironically, where Charles would greet the fallen.

"This country should love our families enough to not do this to us."

The Department of Defense has entered into an agreement with the non-profit organization The Fisher House Foundation located in Rockville, Maryland to pay for costs in the meantime.

Statement by Secretary Hagel on Death Gratuities:

Today I am pleased to announce that the Department of Defense is entering into an agreement with the Fisher House Foundation that will allow the federal government to provide the family members of fallen service members with the full set of benefits they have been promised, including a $100,000 death gratuity payment. I am offended, outraged, and embarrassed that the government shutdown had prevented the Department of Defense from fulfilling this most sacred responsibility in a timely manner. In the days before the shutdown, we warned Congress and the American people that DoD would not have the legal authority to make these payments during a lapse in appropriations. In the days after the shutdown, Departmental lawyers and budget officials pursued every tool and option at our disposal in an effort to provide these benefits. Even under the Pay Our Military Act, we found that we lacked the necessary authority to make payments to the families directly. In the last 24 hours, however, the Department of Defense was approached by the Fisher House Foundation, which had generously offered to make payments to these families from its own funds. In consultation with the Office of Management and Budget, DoD has determined that we can enter into a contract with the Fisher House Foundation to provide these benefits. The Fisher House Foundation will provide the families of the fallen with the benefits they so richly deserve. After the shutdown ends, DoD will reimburse the Fisher House for the costs it has incurred. The Department has no higher priority than taking care of our service members and their families. Our men and women in uniform must know that the Department will always fulfill its responsibilities to them and to their families. Congress has responsibilities as well, and it has abdicated them. Along with the rest of the Department's leaders, I will continue to work every day to address the very real impact that the government shutdown is having on our people, and I once again call on Congress to fulfill its basic responsibilities and restore funding for the federal government.


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