Military Death Benefits

Democrats call for expansion of death benefits

Democrats say they like the idea of giving extra money to families of US troops killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and future war zones. But they also want more money for all military personnel killed on active duty.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is hearing about the Bush administration's plan to boost military death benefits by 250-thousand dollars. The proposal includes retroactive pay to spouses or surviving relatives of those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since October of 2001 -- when the US launched its response to Nine-Eleven.

A Pentagon official says no program can "give someone back their loved one." But he says some extra money can at least help financially. The proposal would increase the tax-free "death gratuity" from about 12-thousand-400 dollars to 100-thousand dollars. And the government would also pay for 150-thousand dollars in life insurance for troops.