Government shutdown impacts local veterans and families

HOUSTON - The Obama administration said it has worked out a solution to provide immediate financial assistance to grieving families of fallen service members.

Under an agreement reached Wednesday, the non-profit organization Fisher House Foundation will pay death benefits to military families using the organization's own funds.

The U.S. Government will then reimburse the foundation after the shutdown ends. Those death benefits typically amount to around $100,000 and are usually paid within three days of a service member's death to help the family with immediate expenses.

Members of the organization Military Moms and Wives of Brazoria County spent Wednesday making care packages for troops serving overseas. As they worked, they said they felt the pain of the shutdown's effects.

"When our sons sign that dotted line, they know they might not come back. But they also know that, ‘If something happens to me, I know my family will be taken care of.' When you have that taken away, what does that say about the country?" said the organization's founder, Mary Moreno.

In Houston, veterans are also seeing the impact of the shutdown.

Though the Department of Veterans Affairs continues to provide services, the regional office in Houston has closed its front doors.

About 210 employees have been furloughed, including public contact representatives who normally meet with clients on a walk in basis. However, a representative from the regional office said the office is still processing claims and veterans can still file claims online.

Despite what's going on in Washington, members of Military Moms and Wives of Brazoria County said their mission will continue. Their focus is always on those overseas.

"We need to remember that. They are true heroes. When you're looking for a true hero or mentor, go to the military," said member Helen Anderson.

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