Jose Luis Magana / AP
A Marine carry team transfers the case containing the remains of Marine Lance Cpl. Jeremiah M. Collins Jr. of Milwaukee, Wis., upon arrival at Dover Air Force Base, Del. on Monday.
One of the American service members whose family is now being denied death benefits due to the government shutdown took to Facebook in the days before his death to voice his frustrations with Washington, his hopes for the future and his dedication to the military.
“I am waiting for the moment they breach my contract. Just waiting, I am out here in Afghan so I can’t just leave, but I can sit the f—k down and not give two sh—ts, get it together Obama and not to mention Congress,” Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Michael Collins wrote on Facebook on Oct. 3 in a post that seems to be directed at the shutdown.
“Jesus! Make up your minds, I will protect the being of my country with my life, but do not go f—king with the men and women that protect your sorry asses.”
Two days later, the 19-year-old Collins died “while supporting combat operations” in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, according to the Department of Defense.
A graduate of Alexander Hamilton High School in Milwaukee, Wis., Collins’ death is under investigation, the department said in a news release.
The Daily Beast first reported on Collins’ Facebook page on Thursday.
“Nobody tries anymore,” Collins wrote in a Sept. 18 post. “What happened to effort and dedication?”
A day earlier, the Marine had written about his aspirations for after he left the military life – and made clear he wouldn’t be one of those people sitting around.
“So, I am going to be getting my associates in Health Fitness along with certifications to be a personal trainer, and then possible a bachelor’s in education (goal being to be a gym teacher),” Collins wrote, saying he wanted to teach in a high school.
In another post Collins quoted a line from Article One of the U.S. military’s Code of Conduct: “I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.”
The Marine’s mother has said that politicians in Washington are “hurting the wrong people” by delaying the death benefits, which the Maryland-based Fisher House foundation has stepped forward to pay until the shutdown is resolved.
“Families shouldn’t have to worry about how they’re going to bury their child,” mother Shannon Collins told NBC News earlier this week. “Families shouldn’t have to worry about how they’re going to feed their family if they don’t go to work this week.”
Since the shutdown began, 26 service members have died and their families have not received the $100,000 death gratuity and other benefits typically given promptly to cover funerals, travel expenses, and other costs. Collins told NBC News she was able to take time off work to see her son’s body return home, but said other people might be in more dire need of the money.
“While that benefit may not be urgent for me, it’s urgent for somebody. There’s somebody who needs to fly their family home. There’s somebody who needs to have expenses covered, or be able to take off work to handle the affairs of their loved one,” Shannon Collins said. “And to know that the government shutting down will delay their ability to handle their business, some people just won’t be able to do it.”
For the mother of one Marine who was ready to give his life serving the U.S. military abroad, the effects the shutdown has had on military families just do not make any sense.
“For the sacrifice our kids are making, at the age that they’re making them, I don’t understand how this can be a benefit that’s withheld. I won’t ever understand it,” the fallen Marine's mother said. “How can we do that to these young men and these young women, who come back having lost their lives?”
NBC News’ Tony Dokoupil, Tracy Connor, Erin McClam, Jim Miklaszewski and Courtney Kube contributed to this report.
First published October 10 2013, 7:20 AM