Title: Families of Fallen Heroes Shouldn’t Bear the Burden of Transportation Costs: The Need for Policy Amendment
The tragic events that unfolded at Kabul Airport in 2021 following the hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan resulted in the loss of several brave service members, including Marine Nicole Gee. Having paid the ultimate sacrifice, these fallen heroes deserve the utmost respect and honor. However, due to an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act, Gee’s family was forced to bear the financial burden of transporting her body from California to Arlington for burial. This article aims to shed light on the unfairness of this policy and advocate for immediate rectification, ensuring that families of fallen heroes are not burdened with transportation costs.
The Emotional Toll on the Gee Family
Nicole Gee, a 23-year-old Marine, tragically lost her life in a suicide blast at Kabul Airport in 2021. Alongside 170 desperate Afghans, Gee became one of the 13 service members who fell victim to the terrorist attack. The grieving Gee family, wanting to provide their beloved Nicole with a proper burial at Arlington National Cemetery, was shocked to learn that they would have to bear the financial cost of transporting her body from California to Virginia.
The Defense Department’s Role in Transportation Costs
Rep. Cory Mills drew attention to an amendment in the National Defense Authorization Act that allowed the Defense Department to decline responsibility for the transportation costs of fallen service members’ remains. This amendment, included in last year’s Act, authorized the Secretary of Defense to provide a “commercial air travel use waiver” for the transportation of deceased military members who died within a theater of combat operations. Unfortunately, this provision left the Gee family and others in similar situations struggling to cover exorbitant costs.
Honoring Our Fallen Steps Up
In response to the Gee family’s plight, Honoring Our Fallen, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting the families of fallen American service members, intervened. The organization arranged for Gee to be transported via private jet from California to Virginia. However, while this generous act provided temporary relief, it highlights the need for a long-term solution. Families of fallen heroes should not have to rely on nonprofit organizations to cover transportation expenses; it should be the responsibility of the Defense Department.
Demanding Change: Rectification and Policy Amendment
Rep. Cory Mills vehemently voiced his dismay at the burden placed on grieving families and called for immediate rectification. He declared that it is an “egregious injustice” for families to shoulder the financial strain of honoring their loved ones. Mills emphasizes that fallen heroes are typically flown back to their hometowns for a solemn service before being laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. The financial responsibility should lie with the Defense Department rather than the devastated families left to mourn their loss.
The Importance of Amending the Policy
The current policy places an undue burden on families who are already grappling with the immeasurable grief and loss of their loved ones. These heroes willingly sacrificed their lives in service to their country and deserve the highest honors and respect. To ensure fairness and just treatment for all fallen heroes and their families, immediate action is required to amend the National Defense Authorization Act.
The tragic events at Kabul Airport in 2021 highlighted a profound injustice: families of fallen service members being forced to bear the financial burden of transporting their loved ones’ remains. The case of Marine Nicole Gee underscores the need for policy reform to rectify this unfairness. The Defense Department must assume responsibility for transporting fallen heroes, ensuring their final journey is respectful and dignified. By amending the National Defense Authorization Act, we can honor the sacrifices made by these brave men and women, while alleviating the financial strain on their grieving families.