Fisher House fills benefit gap for fallen soldiers' families

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WJLA) - Before Wednesday’s House vote to restore military death benefits, a private foundation in Rockville stepped forward to help. The Pentagon says it will reimburse the Fisher House Foundation once the shutdown ends.

Donation calls are up 2,000 percent at the Fisher House Foundation.

On Tuesday, the charity pledged to open its wallet since the shutdown is preventing families of fallen service members from receiving the so-called death gratuity, a $100,000 payment usually deposited within three days of death.

“The concern we have is the fact they know there is a grateful nation who appreciates their loved one’s sacrifice,” says David Coker, president of Fisher House Foundation, Inc.

At a dignified transfer for five service members at the Dover Air Force Base Wednesday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he was "outaged and embarrassed about the situation."

On Capitol Hill, members of Congress also weighed in. By mid-afternoon, a unanimous vote in the House reinstated the Department of Defense's authority to issue death benefits and refund Fisher House for what it’s already agreed to pay.

Action in the Senate, however, has yet to be seen.

Fisher House says the hundreds of thousands of dollars it is dispensing from unrestricted funds come with no strings attached. Family members can use that money for funeral arrangements, travel, lodging and even groceries if they choose.