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Local father calls shutdown impacts to military 'shameful'

Members of 110th U.S. Congress, January 2007. (Chip Somodevilla/File, Getty Images)
Members of 110th U.S. Congress, January 2007. (Chip Somodevilla/File, Getty Images)
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Updated: 10/09/2013 9:47 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Obama administration said it has worked out a solution to allow the families of fallen military members to receive death benefits during the government shutdown.

"He gave the ultimate sacrifice and that'll never be forgotten," said Dave Seaman.

Seaman spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy. The Gold Star now pinned to his chest is one military award he didn't want to receive. His son, Timothy, followed his family's footsteps into the armed forces. But a promising military career ended in August 2005 when his Humvee struck an IED.

Seaman said receiving his son's casket was the toughest part of a painful process.

"You're in shock. You're just in shock," said Seaman.

The government shutdown sparked outrage this week after it halted death benefits for funeral expenses and financial support for families of fallen soldiers.

"Well, I think that's disgusting," said Seaman. "I think we shamed ourselves, we shamed ourselves as a country. We shamed ourselves to the military men and women who put their sacrifices above all for the freedoms we so enjoy."

Grieving relatives sparked fast action in Congress. The House voted unanimously Wednesday to restore funding that helps families of fallen soldiers plan funerals and meet their loved ones' bodies.

Seaman said he's frustrated families of deceased soldiers were caught in the crossfire of Washington politics.

While the vote to restore funding awaits approval in the Senate, the Fisher House Foundation has agreed to make the payments from its own funds. At the end of the shutdown, the Defense Department will reimburse the foundation for the costs it has incurred.

The Fisher House Foundation is a charity organization that works with veterans and military families.

The White House said earlier Wednesday that President Barack Obama was "disturbed" to learn that families of fallen soldiers were not receiving death benefits.

The Defense Department typically pays families about $100,000 within three days of a soldier's death, but officials said the shutdown was preventing those benefits from being paid.
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