Shutdown yanks benefits from WA army widow

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by Erica Heartquist, KGW Staff

KREM.com

Posted on October 11, 2013 at 5:38 AM

Updated Friday, Oct 11 at 5:40 AM

VANCOUVER, Wash. -- A Vancouver woman who is the widow of an Army Master Sergeant killed in Iraq is worried about how she'll pay her bills next month due to the government shutdown.

While Congress voted to restore immediate death benefits for the families of fallen soldiers, it did not restore a monthly check that many military widows and widowers depend on.

"I've done a lot to hold it together. I finally feel like I'm getting on my feet and this is what happens? Have you ever felt betrayed? That's what this feels like," Kate Needham told KGW.

Army Master Sergeant Robb Needham was killed in Baghdad 7 years ago. He left behind two children, several grandchildren and his wife, Kate.

Now, Kate is outraged with the government shutdown and wanted the public to know she and thousands of other spouses are worried they'll be left high and dry come November 1st.

"Everything, car insurance, everything. You have to pay [your bills] but you can't if you don't get your money," she said.

As a survivor of a veteran killed in the line of duty, each month Needham gets about $3,200 from the federal government. Money that might not be available soon.

"Today is November 10th, so yeah, it's just 21 days away. That's just three weeks. I mean, you've got to figure out how you're going to handle it and I haven't come up with an answer yet," she said.

Needham explained that her husband served 31 years so she gets more money than widows whose spouses served less time.  But she worries about those people, too. Many, she said are young mothers who have no way to pay for basic life expenses.

"There's about 100 other people I know that it will affect also," she said.

"I don't think the government understands. I really don't. I mean, their gym is still open for crying out loud," added Needham.

She said if he were here now, her husband would give the U.S. Congress an earful.

"I'd like to think that he's upset now and saying, 'What are those guys doing? I gave my life for this country and you're not even taking care of my wife?' "

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