In a troubling revelation, Rep. Cory Mills, R-Fla., a veteran of the U.S. Army, has raised concerns after discovering that one of the 13 Gold Star families impacted by the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was saddled with a heavy financial burden. During a recent meeting with the families of the “Fallen 13,” Mills learned that the Department of Defense had placed the family of Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee in a distressing situation. They were forced to arrange and fund the transportation of her body to its final resting place after her tragic death in Afghanistan in 2021.
The Gee family found themselves facing an exorbitant cost of $60,000 to move their loved one’s body, a burden they should never have had to bear. Thanks to the intervention of a nonprofit organization, Honoring Our Fallen, the family was able to secure the funding they needed to transport Sgt. Gee via a private jet to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
This alarming situation came to light due to an amendment in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act. According to Mills’ office, the amendment permits the Defense Department to decline responsibility for covering the transportation expenses of a fallen service member’s remains if they died within a theater of combat operations. This, in turn, shifts the financial burden onto the grieving families.
In response to this distressing revelation, Rep. Mills has called for immediate action to rectify the situation. As a staunch supporter of the military and a firm advocate for honoring fallen heroes, Mills vehemently opposes the Defense Department’s practice of burdening the families of servicemen and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
The solemn tradition of repatriating fallen heroes’ remains to their hometowns and eventually to their final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery has long been a sacred practice of utmost respect and honor. However, the unfortunate circumstances surrounding Sgt. Gee’s case has highlighted the need for reforms to ensure that the financial strain does not befall grieving families.
Rep. Mills, along with other concerned lawmakers and advocates, is pressing for an urgent review of the existing policy. They are demanding that the Defense Department takes up the responsibility of funding and organizing the transportation of fallen service members’ remains, providing solace and support to Gold Star families during their time of immense grief.
As the nation mourns the loss of these brave souls who paid the ultimate price in service to their country, the focus now shifts toward rectifying an unacceptable situation. With bipartisan support, Rep. Mills aims to bring about necessary changes to ensure that fallen heroes’ families are relieved of any undue financial burdens, allowing them to grieve and honor their loved ones without unnecessary worry or hardship.