Shutdown Outrage: Scramble to Restore Benefits to Families of the Fallen

Military benefits held up for families of soldiers killed in action because of the shutdown.
4:00 | 10/09/13

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Transcript for Shutdown Outrage: Scramble to Restore Benefits to Families of the Fallen
We begin tonight with 26 american families caught in the cross hairs of a political fight. Mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, all denied government help to fund tune rams for the loved ones they lost who was serving our country. A solemn government promise, broken. This was the scene today at dover air force base in delaware, as the bodies of the fallen heroes returned home. Defense secretary chuck hagel paid his respects and announced late today that the pentagon had found a fix to the problem. Bull there are new signs of more trouble coming, this time for veterans. We have two reports tonight, starting with abc's senior national correspondent, jim avila. Reporter: Poignant images of shutdown day nine, a lone patriotic volunteer mowing the lawn and trimming trees in front of lincoln in advance of a weekend veterans convention. While at dover air force base, the shutdown hits america's bravest, fallen heroes. 26 killed in action in afghanistan or on military bases at home since the shutdown. Their families denied the $100,000 so-called death gratuity. The four heroes brought home today all killed over the weekend in an ied attack. Sergeant patrick c. Hawkins of carlisle, pennsylvania, sergeant joseph peters of springfield, missouri, private first class cody j. Patterson philomath, oregon and first lieutenant jennifer m. Moreno, of san diego, her friends and family forced to raise money to pay for her funeral. She sacrificed for the country, for her family. Why wouldn't that be taken care of? There is no excuse. Reporter: The outrage heard and late today, the pentagon announced, on orders of the president, a contract with a civilian charity to pay the death benefits immediately. When I heard about this story, I told the department of defense, within our administrative powers, we should be able to get that fixed. This hearing will come to order. Reporter: But a widespread problem remains unsolved. Veterans affairs secretary eric shinseki, warning congress today, more than 5 million military service veterans and their families won't get november benefit checks if the shutdown continues. Georgia eaves served in korea, her military pension is all she lives on today. If I took care of my soldiers the way they took care of their constitutes we would have lost the war. Reporter: But as veterans and military families stress over the shutdown, there is still a place where congress at least can get away from it all. No worries, the senate and house gyms are open, although some complain on the radio they have to bring their own towels. There's no towel service. No. And we're doing our own laundry down there -- serious -- we pay a fee. Reporter: Only acceptable federal facilities are supposed to be open, and a fit congress is important. But essential? His advice, shut down the gyms until the madness ends. George? Okay, jim, thank you. Let's get more from jonathan karl. Jon, no surprise, the disgust with washington just keeps piling up. Reporter: That's right. And republicans are taking most of the blame. But the president isn't doing that well, either. Take a look at the latest poll from the associated press. The president's approval rating at 37%. That matches his lowest ever. As for congress, look at this. 5% approve of congress's job performance. George, with the margin of error, that could be as low as 1%. You'd think they'll be scrambling for a solution. Reporter: That's right. I am hearing more talk of proposals about a short-term increase in the debt ceiling, just really delaying all of this, but george, the president invited all of the house republicans to the white house tomorrow. They refused, said they would only send the leaders. That prompted a sharp response from the press secretary, saying the president thought it was important to talk directly to the members who forced this economic crisis on the country. This does not sound like a group on the verge of a compromise. Jon karl, thank you. Some business did get done

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