Rockville charity provides money to families of fallen service members -- Gazette.Net







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A Rockville charity attracted national attention this week for temporarily taking over support for families of fallen soldiers after the Pentagon was unable to make payments because of the government shutdown.

Fisher House, which provides housing to families of injured military members while they are receiving treatment, made an agreement with the Department of Defense Wednesday to take over the payment of $100,000 death benefits to the families of soldiers killed in active duty.

Those payments are normally made by the department, which was temporarily unable to make them because of the government shutdown.

President Barack Obama signed a bill Thursday that will allow the Pentagon to make the payments instead.

Because the bill was passed and signed by the President, Fisher House never actually made a payment, said Jody Fisher, a spokesman representing the charity. Jody Fisher is not related to the family who runs the Fisher House.

But Fisher House announced on Friday that it would still pay $25,000 gifts to families of each of the 29 service members who were killed in action between the start of the shutdown on Oct. 1 and Thursday when the bill was signed.

When the issue of the Pentagon not being able to make the payments arose this week, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) contacted Fisher House CEO Ken Fisher and asked if the foundation would be able to help, Fisher House spokeswoman Cindy Campbell said Friday. The organization has helped family members be at their loved ones’ sides for decades, and is fortunate to have the resources to have been able to help, she said.

Since its start in 1990, Fisher House has opened 61 homes at veterans’ hospitals across the country, serving more than 180,000 families and providing more than five million days of free lodging, according to its website.

News of the initial agreement, announced Wednesday in a statement from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, got the charity mentioned in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and CNN, among other media outlets.