Friends of fallen soldier raising money for funeral - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Friends of fallen soldier raising money for funeral during shutdown

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – Friends of a local soldier killed in combat are attempting to raise money for her funeral and memorial services as the government shutdown has forced death benefits to be withheld for grieving military families.

Army 1st Lt. Jennifer Moreno paid the ultimate sacrifice and was killed in action over the weekend in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan.

Now her friends worry the family of the 25-year-old San Diego native are at risk of being denied money to pay for the funeral.

"We're willing to risk our lives to know that our families are set and good to go and that was robbed," said Alexandria DiBella, a friend of Moreno's who also serves with the Army National Guard.

DiBella was introduced to Moreno's smile during sophomore year at San Diego High School's ROTC program.

"She just knew what to say, how to lighten up the mood and still get her point across," said DiBella. "She was just a great person"

Moreno, an Army nurse, was excited when she deployed to Afghanistan in June. She died Sunday in a roadside bombing that killed her and three other soldiers. Pfc. Cody James Patterson, Special Agent Joseph Peters, and Sgt. Patrick Hawkins also died in the attack.

While the government is shutdown those soldiers' families cannot receive a death gratuity that is typically $1000,000 to help cover funeral costs.

"Shouldn't we be embarrassed by this?" asked Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) from the Senate floor. "Shouldn't we be ashamed?"

DiBella isn't waiting around for Congress to come to their senses.

She and some friends set up a Facebook page and a donation account for Moreno's family.

"She sacrificed for the country, for her family." DiBella said. "Why wouldn't [a death gratuity] have been taken care of? There is no excuse."

Fundraising may not pay for everything but for now she says donations are all they can count on.

"We just don't want the family to be in any more grief or stressed out," she said. "It's an emotional time. That's not what they should be worried about."

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