U.S. Army Pfc. Jonathan Pfender, a Tri-State native, was killed in Iraq in 2005. His parents say that money allowed them to honor their son with the memorial he deserved. They say Congress is turning their backs on grieving families and the servicemen and women who sacrificed their lives.
"Their family members are in great sorrow right now enough without Congress and government throwing salt at them. Cause that's about what it is -- throwing salt at them," says Jeff Hammond, Pfender's stepfather.
Also suspended during the shutdown is the program that pays for the travel of families to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to see the return of their loved ones. Families will have to pay for travel expenses out of their own pockets until the program is reinstated. "We would have never made it without that," says Wendy Dickens, whose brother, U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Cable of Daviess Co., Ky, was killed in March while serving for Operation Enduring Freedom. Dickens says her family wouldn't have been able to pay for the trip to Dover out of their own pockets.
"That's horrible that the government is taking that away from these families in the worst times of their lives," says Dickens. "[Congress] should take their pay checks and give it to these families to make sure they get to be in Dover. That is a very important thing. That's where our closure started. That's just part of dealing with the fact that you lost a family member in such a horrific way and I cannot believe that they would do this to somebody."
Dickens says during the last in-person conversation she had with her brother he said, "if anything happens to me, don't let mom and dad worry. The government will take care of everything."
Cable and Pfender's families share a common sentiment. They say it's time for Congress to stand behind the servicemen and women who put their lives on the line for our country.