Wife of Slain Soldier Supports Call for More Benefits

Cheyenne, WY – The wife of one of Wyoming's fallen soldiers is welcoming the President's plan to greatly increase the benefits paid to families of American troops killed in combat zones. Anne Edmunds' husband, Jonn, died in an October 2001 helicopter crash during the war in Afghanistan. Edmunds says she was happy when the so-called death gratuity went from $6,000 to over $12,000 in 2003. President Bush now hopes to make that amount $100,000. Edmunds says most of the people she talks to in military families agree it should go up. She says the government will never be able to repay her or anyone else who has lost a spouse, but the money helps make their quality of life, without their spouse, better. Edmunds thinks the increase should apply for all military personnel who die while on active-duty, not just those in combat zones. The proposed increase would be retroactive, so Edmunds would be in line for the increased benefits. She says it would help her plan for her and her daughter's future, saying she hasn't really had a chance to build up any retirement savings in the three years since her husband's death.