Every day thousands of people put their lives on the line to protect us while working as firefighters and police officers. They are there for us in our time of need. Sadly, some will leave home today and never return.
These heroes need to know that if they don’t return home, someone will have their back.
Several weeks ago 19 men who were members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots based in Prescott, Arizona, died while fighting wildfires in Arizona. We mourned with their families about this tragic loss of life. Out here in the west we know all too well about the summer wildfires and the devastation they can do. We also know these fires can kill.
During this tragedy the last thing a family member of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew needs is the runaround over survivor benefits, but that is exactly what the widow of crew member Andrew Ashcraft is getting from the city officials in Prescott.
Juliann Ashcraft is that widow and she has four children.
According to a report from CBS News, “All 19 hotshot families will receive worker’s compensation and a one-time federal payment of $328,000. But the city insists Ashcraft and 12 others were seasonal employees and are therefore not entitled to the lifetime salaries and health benefits — worth millions — given to the six full-time Hotshots.”
But CBS News also reported that they “obtained paperwork that shows Ashcraft did earn a full-time salary.” When Juliann Ashcraft told city officials that her husband was, in fact, a full-time employee she said she was told by city officials, “Perhaps there was a communication issue in your marriage.”
Imagine being a widow with four children and hearing that from your husband’s employer.
It’s very simple: Every member of the Granite Mountain Hotshot crew should be given the same benefits.
Arizona’s two U.S. Senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, and the U.S. Representative from the Prescott area, Paul Gosar, should take some time off from their busy August recess to provide assistance to Juliann Ashcraft and other widows from the Granite Mountain Hotshots. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer should help, too. Helping constituents is one of the most important parts of their job.
We need to take care of our own.
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