Families of fallen heroes will get death benefits - San Diego, California News Station - KFMB Channel 8 - cbs8.com

Families of fallen heroes will get death benefits

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The family of a local army nurse killed over the weekend in Afghanistan will now get the death benefits they're entitled to.

A charity group is stepping up to pay death benefits for families of fallen military service men and women during the federal government's shutdown.

Fisher House Foundation has graciously stepped up so families like the Morenos can respectfully lay their daughter to rest.

Friends say Jennifer Moreno always had smile on her face. Not only did she love to dance, but she was one of those people that wouldn't be afraid to tell you what was wrong. The day she stepped into the ROTC program at San Diego High was the day she knew she found her career for life.

For Junior ROTC instructor 1st Sgt. Lawrance Mayorga, Jennifer Moreno was more than just a cadet.

"It's sad that someone of her caliber, her sweetness, her beautiful heart is lost for us forever, but always in our memory," Mayorga said.

A natural born leader, Mayorga says Jennifer was wise beyond her years. With a strong head on her shoulders, the 25-year-old graduated from San Diego High in 2006 with a full nursing scholarship to the University of San Francisco.

"Not only was she was a fantastic young lady, high academic standards, as well as standards of helping other students at other times," Mayorga said.

This was Moreno's first, and unfortunately her last deployment. The San Diego High graduate was among four soldiers killed in an enemy attack on Sunday in Afghanistan. On Wednesday, her family flew to Dover Air Force Base to receive her remains. Despite the government shutdown, Mayorga says the Morenos were in good hands.

"All I'm concerned about is the family being taken care of. What I've heard from (Jennifer's sister) Jearaldy is everything is going fine," he said.

The Pentagon reached an agreement with the nonprofit Fisher House Foundation to restore military families with $100,000 of death benefits that have been stalled by the shutdown. With two locations here in San Diego, the Fisher House offers housing and support for family members during hospitalization.

"What we want to make sure if no matter what happens the families are not going to suffer," A Fisher House spokesperson said.

Jennifer is the first student in the junior ROTC program at the high school to die in conflict. Mayorga, who's been in constant contact with Jennifer's younger sister Jearaldy, says right now his focus is on Jennifer's family.

"It's that process of life. We have to be strong for the members of the family. Sometimes they look at us as that guiding light," Mayorga said.

Jennifer touched a lot of lives. Her big brother Ivan, who is also in the Army, says he would like to thank everyone from the bottom of his heart for their support. He says it's nice to know that his sister was well-loved and will be greatly missed.

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