Tuesday, June 27, 2006

UNTANGLING MILITARY DEATH BENEFITS --
For military widows, many of them young, stay-at-home mothers, the shock of losing a husband is often followed by the confounding task of untangling a collection of benefits from assorted bureaucracies.

While the process runs smoothly for many widows, for others it is characterized by lost files, long delays, an avalanche of paperwork, misinformation and gaps in the patchwork of laws governing survivor benefits.

Sometimes it is simply the Pentagon's massive bureaucracy that poses the problem. In other cases, laws exclude widows whose husbands died too early in the war or were killed in training rather than in combat. The result is that scores of families — it is impossible to know how many — lose out on money and benefits that they expected to receive or believed they were owed, say widows, advocates and legislators.
Does it seem like the Pentagon spends billions on equipment (maybe not body armor), but pinches pennies when it comes to soldiers and their families?