Stateline Military Father Reflects on Possible Death Benefit Increase

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More than a month after his son Neil died in combat, David Petsche says no price could equal the 21-year-old's life and service.

"No amount can return my son, but yet at the same time I really don't know what I'd do about it," Petsche said.

U.S. senators are currently proposing boosting the military death benefit from $12,400 to $250,000. David Petsche received his benefit check a week after Neil's death, funds that are being set aside for a special scholarship.

"It's not bad. But there's a lot of red tape, and it takes time for government agencies to respond accordingly," Petsche said.

Other lawmakers say the military benefit should be expanded to all troops that die in or outside the combat zone. Petsche, however, says those serving on the battlefield's front line should receive special attention.

"The people in the combat zone are laying their life on the line, and coming from a proud tradition in the military service, it’s a hidden risk," Petsche said.

For now, David Petsche's focus is providing the Lena community with Neil's two loves: his education, and his love of the outdoors.

"If the funding comes through, that's fine. If not, I'm not going to worry about it. We still are, with what I've already received, it's still going to fund the scholarship," Petsche said.

It’s a military benefit one Stateline father expects to keep on giving, just like Neil would have wanted.

"I would have doubled that money and given it back to them if I could have gotten my son back, but that's not going to happen, so I just have to trust in the Lord and follow in the footsteps of my son, and I'd like to continue the footsteps that he started," Petsche said.

The increases in benefits would be retroactive to the day the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. Neil Petsche's unit is expected to return to the U.S. in late March.