| In a Washington Post story today about how Senator Hillary Clinton tends to "veer to the dark side" in her speeches, she is quoted as retelling the story of a military spouse who lost her husband in Iraq:
In another story, retold recently in Youngstown, Ohio, she describes a "young woman who lost her husband in Iraq, a lovely young woman who had a daughter."
"Here's what happened to her," Clinton said. "She was given $6,000. She was told to leave the [military] base within 90 days. She was told her daughter was no longer eligible for Army medical care. She was basically on her own. So I said, 'That's not right.' So we began to work to change what was really cruel - you lose your husband, you lose your wife, you lose your mom or your dad, and you're out, and nobody seemed to care."
Nice story. Too bad it's false.
In a 22 March 2008 story in The New York Times, death benefits given to military families are outlined:
Three years ago, advocates for military families succeeded in winning a significant expansion in survivor benefits, which include life insurance, a death gratuity, medical care and housing and education assistance.
. . .
In 2005, the so-called death gratuity - the sum given to survivors for an active-duty death - jumped to $100,000 from $12,420, and the military's group life insurance maximum rose to $400,000 from $250,000. Both are retroactive to October 2001, covering the nearly 4,500 service members who have been killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars since.
There are myriad other survivor benefits, too, many determined by specific circumstances. Joyce Wessel Raezer, chief operating officer of the National Military Family Association, said that a hypothetical widow of an Army corporal based at Fort Drum, in upstate New York, with three years of service and two young children would likely receive payments totaling $5,335 a month for the first year. In addition, a spouse would get free medical care for three years - the children into adulthood - and all would receive education assistance.
Through private companies, the Department of Veterans Affairs provides insurance beneficiaries the service of a professional financial planner for a year, but a spokesman said that only one in 10 families uses it.
So, let's see, Clinton said that:
1. The wife was given $6,000. Huh? Any other time I would assume that was the basic death gratuity to cover funeral expenses, but that was over $12,000 before being increased to $100,000 three years ago. So, false.
2. The wife was given 90 days to move off-base. Probably correct - for obvious reasons.
3. She said the daughter was no longer eligible for military health care. Completely and utterly false. Not only is her daughter eligible for military health care until she's an adult, but the wife continues to receive it for three more years.
So she's either out-right lying or just doesn't know what the hell she's talking about - which she should because I'm certain the increase in death benefits had to be approved by the Senate.
This is what we want in a president?
Duck and cover! It's a sniper!
UPDATE: Hillary's campaign site notes that:
She cosponsored the Military Death Benefit Improvement Act to raise the military survivor benefit from $12,000 to $100,000.
So that's something.