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With Shutdown Causing Delays in Benefits for Families of Fallen Soldiers, Community Rallies

Special Agent Joseph M. Peters
Special Agent Joseph M. Peters when he first became a CID Special Agent in 2008./ Credit: U.S. Army

Special Agent Joseph M. Peters was the first Criminal Investigation Division agent killed in Operations Iraqi Freedom or Enduring Freedom. 

The 24 year-old husband and father graduated from Republic High School in 2007, and immediately enlisted in the U.S. Army. This was his third deployment in the War on Terror, and he was assigned to the 286th Military Police Detachment. As a CID agent, he had specialized training in conducting site exploitations and evidence collection. But to friends, like Ian Tausig, he was more than a great officer.

“I really got to know the man, and he was just a phenomenal guy. You hear people talk about ‘he was a good guy,’ but he really was one of those truly good guys who would give you the shirt off his back; it’s an old adage, but it’s very true for Joe. He was just a phenomenal person, and I’m going to miss him deeply, being able to talk with him, it’s a horrible loss,” Tausig said.

Tausig was one of many friends to start a fundraising campaign to support Peters’ wife and 20-month old son, after learning that the partial government shutdown cut off federal benefits to families of fallen soldiers.

In less than a day, friends and anonymous donors had raised over $2,000 and counting, while the Facebook page reached about 900 members. Many have also donated items for an auction to raise more money.

Tausig said he was surprised and thankful for all the financial support, but he knows it’s just one aspect for the Peters family.

“The best thing that we can do now is to honor his memory, and remember who he was, and the things that he loved and believed in. He really believed in his mission, he believed in the army, and our cause,” Tausig said.

Peters was posthumously awarded the Combat in Action Badge, Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.

Another fundraising site was recently started by the company Crowdit to help all the soldiers who were lost alongside Peters. For more information about donating, visit the FundRazr, Facebook, and Crowdit sites.

Meanwhile, the US House Wednesday afternoon unanimously passed legislation promising that families of fallen soldiers receive the death gratuity benefits they were promised. Congressman Billy Long of Missouri’s 7th District stated that “Our nation’s military families mourning a fallen hero need to know our nation supports them in their time of need.” The White House has also directed its lawyers to work with the Office of Management and Budget and the Pentagon to find a solution outside of legislative action.

For KSMU News, I’m Anna Thomas.