Families of Illinois soldiers killed in Iraq can receive around 268-thousand dollars from the state, but eight months after the state increased the benefits, just three of the 81 families who've applied have been paid. One of those families is from the Stateline.
In December, Dave Petsche got the news every military dad fears, his son 21-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Neil Petsche had become a casualty of war.
“Anyone in the military knows it's an inherent risk you don't talk about just one of those things.” says Petsche
In January Dave Petsche filled out several benefit forms but almost a half year later he still hadn't heard from the government. That is until a few weeks ago when he finally received a notice in the mail.
“I was told 8-10 weeks which would put it in August but it came unexpectantly last weekend.” said Petsche
The delay in receiving benefits is for several reasons. First the Attorney General must review the claim. It's then passed on to a court of claims which determines the payments before finally heading to the Comptroller who issues the check.
A spokesperson for Governor Rod Blagojevich says they're as frustrated as anyone else. On top of losing a family member, families shouldn't have to wait so long. But Petsche says the money doesn't matter.
“I'd rather have my son back than the money." says Petsche
Neil’s father says receiving the money has been bittersweet but he plans to use it to keep his sons memory alive.
“We’ve set up a scholarship under his name. Have some people who are working on it. It’ll be based on how he went through school. He had a difficult time.” said Petsche
Petsche says he hopes other military families still waiting for checks will see them come soon.
“With any government that's how it's regulated. How it's done. You have to wait for them. I feel for other people who are in the same position as I’m in. My heart goes out to them." says Petsche
The claims court has recently approved 23 more benefit cases which will be mailed out shortly.
Military benefits for the families of Brandon Ramey and Brandon Rowe are still pending in court. Ramey was killed in Iraq in November. Rowe died in March of 2003 after being struck by enemy fire.