OT: What is a dead U.S. Soldier worth?

There has been a supposed quote from Rush Limbaugh floating around that compares the compensation between a U.S. soldier versus someone who lost their loved on on 9/11. Since all of the dollar amounts are not quite correct, I won't post the original "quote". It did cause me to look up the data on snopes.com. Kinda interesting... sad... and just something that doesn't seem quite right.

U.S. Soldier Death Benefits

Servicemen's Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program pays $250,000 to the families of servicemen killed while on ACTIVE service. Servicemen and women have to pay $20 per month premiums for this insurance.

A $6,000 death gratuity to provide immediate cash to meet the needs of survivors.

A burial allowance ranging from $100 to $3,000 (and other associated compensation for funeral and burial costs).

A Dependency and Indemnity Compensation for the spouse at a flat rate annuity of $833 per month, with an additional $211 paid for each dependent child until age 18.

9/11 Surviving Family Member Benefits

The Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) paid out a non-taxable compensation amount of $250,000.

The VCF also paid an additional $100,000 for the spouse and each dependent of the victim in what is called non-economic losses.

Additional compensation is paid for economic loss determined by factors such as the victim's age and income level. The upper limit on compensation is about $4.7 million dollars. The average amount paid out was about $1.65 million per family.

Comparing the Two

Both families get $250,000. That is IF the soldier paid $20 a month. The 9/11 families paid nothing.

The 9/11 spouse gets and additional $100,000 and the soldier's spouse gets $6,000 and then $833 a month. I am NOT sure, but I do believe if the soldier's spouse remarries, the $833 monthly benefit stops. Marital status of the 9/11 spouse does not matter. Please correct me if I am wrong. In just short of 10 years' time, if she or he does not remarry, the soldier's spouse monthly benefit received will match the $100,000 benefit of the 9/11 spouse.

Each 9/11 dependent also gets $100,000. If the soldier's child was born on the day the soldier died, the maximum amount that child could get is $45,576.

Soldiers' families receive a burial expense benefit while the 9/11 families do not.

To the best of my knowledge, family members of fallen soldiers do not receive any form of economic loss benefit beyond the $6,000. There might be some other form of benefit through Social Security, but I doubt that it is anywhere near 1.6 million dollars

Here's the kicker... again, to the best of my knowledge, the fallen soldier's family DOES pay taxes on those benefits they receive (again, correct me if I am wrong). The 9/11 families pay no federal, state or local taxes on their benefits.

One could say I was comparing apples to oranges here and they would be right... to a point. One could also say that a soldier knew what could possible happen when they joined. Again, they would be right.

On the other hand, I could just as easily say that the victims of 9/11 were just folks at the wrong place at the wrong time. Heartless? Maybe, but it is a fact. Don't get me wrong, I cry on every 9/11. The deaths that occurred on that fateful day were tragic and needless. I once stood next to the Murrah Federal Building in OKC before they finished tearing down what little had remained after the bombing. I cried then as well. It too, was an obscene tragedy.

What is starting to upset me is that during the 9/11 hearings and even before, a limited number of the 9/11 families were claiming that they were not compensated enough. Financially, that is. If my family did such, I'd haunt them until they join me in the "after life". Since the government has paid benefits to the victims of 9/11, many victims in OKC feel they should be paid too. Should they? What about the victims of the embassy bombings?

Of course it is in all of our hearts to give and help those in need. What one might need to question is what exactly defines need. Also, should we also pay out such benefits for the victims of terrorist attacks in the future? How much is fair and just? Does it have to be domestic only or can it occur overseas and still "qualify"? If the "terrorist" is a naturally born U.S, citizen, does it "not count"? What exactly IS a "terrorist act"? Does it have to be a car bomb or just a Pinto that explodes into flames?

You might see where I'm going with this....

The level and circumstances of one being a "victim" can be viewed many different ways. Just as what would be a fair compensation for them being in "the wrong place at the wrong time". Just ask the tsunami victims. Their life stories and tragic separations from loved ones are shown to each and every night. Not quite as detailed, but similar to the victims of 9/11 and OKC.

On the other hand, how often do we hear about the widow of a fallen soldier? One that was reduced to using food stamps to feed their family while their spouse was deployed and will now continue to do so in their spouse's death. A widow, who with their new born son, will get $12,528 a year in "economic loss" compensation. Taxable compensation, that is. Even if it was not taxed, is that how we recognize and respect those that have lost their lives fighting AND dying for our and the world's freedom? Often, the UN uses troops made up mostly of Americans, but do they offer any compensation for those that die following UN orders. I doubt it.

I just don't get it. Like police and firefighters, it's those that "knew the hazards when they join" that we seem to ignore when they die doing exactly what we asked of them as citizens of this great nation. Yet we have no problem sending money out of our own pockets to aid those we have never met, in a country we have never been to. Is what happened to them tragic? Of course it is. Are they not in need of assistance? Of course they are. So, when a soldier, police officer or fire fighter dies in the line of duty is it not as tragic? Are their needs not as great?

I guess that because they are not "victims", they do not deserve the attention and assistance given to impoverished nations. Or maybe that "impoverished nation" also has to be a tourist resort area that was hit by a "natural" disaster to "qualify". After all, in just a handful of months back in 1994, over 937,000 died in the Rwandan genocide. Over six times as many that have died in the most recent and now referred to as the Greatest Human Disaster of All Time. Rawanda received little to no military or humanitarian aid. All the UN conceded in saying was that "acts of genocide may have been committed.". I guess that means Rawanda did not "qualify".

I'm not suggesting one not send a donation to help out these victims of natural disasters and terrorist acts. I would never think of such. What I am asking is that when you do have the blessed opportunity to give a few of your hard earned dollars to help someone in need, just take a little time to think about those that many have so easily forgotten, but are just as much in need of the basics like shelter, food and clothing.

In a way, the families of soldiers, police officers and fire fighters are just as much, if not MORE so... a innocent victim of a tragedy. A tragedy that happens each and every day in the streets of Kabul, Baghdad and yes... right here in the streets of America. Do they really deserve to be so easily forgotten? Is it "fair and just" and what we call "The American Way"?

... as redelk steps back down from his soapbox... picks it up... and goes home with his head held down low and a tear in his eye over the loss of another soldier... police officer... fire fighter...

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