By Pablo J. Sáinz
Lieutenant Jennifer Moreno always liked to help others.
That’s the main reason why she graduated with a nursing degree from the University of San Francisco. That’s the main reason she enlisted in the U.S. Army. That’s the main reason she volunteered to go to Afghanistan, where she served as an Army Nurse.
Moreno, 25, was killed by a bomb October 6, when her unit was attacked during a raid to a Taliban base. She was awarded a Bronze Star posthumously for bravery.
But perhaps the greatest honor she received was the one she received from Logan Heights veterans of war, when they paid their respects to one of their own on Friday, October, 11th.
Dozens of Logan Heights veterans from Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, came together at the Logan Heights Veterans Memorial, in Chicano Park, to remember the sacrifice this young lady made while fighting for her country.
“Today we’re here as a single unit to honor this young lady,” said Juan Manuel Crespin, spokesperson for the Logan Heights Veterans Memorial Committee, which organized the event. “I’m a parent. The last thing, God forbid, is that anything should happen to our children. Our children are sacred. They are not supposed to go before us.”
Moreno’s mother, Maria Cordova, arrived at the memorial crying, in company of her three other children, one of them also in the Army.
“All I want to say is that the pain I feel is very big,” she said in Spanish. “Jennifer always felt proud of her work. Thank you to all for the attention you’re giving my daughter.”
During the service, San Diego Councilmember David Alvarez, gave a plaque to Cordova thanking her, for her daughter’s service.
“With all my heart, Señora, I regret your daughter’s death, she’s now in heaven,” said Alvarez, who represents Logan Heights at city hall.
University of San Francisco President Stephen A. Privett asked for prayers for Moreno’s family, Moreno graduated from the university in 2010.
“Jennifer was a dedicated and caring nurse, a brave Army lieutenant and a beloved member of the USF community,” he said. “She died living her mission of service to her country and to the global community and we honor her sacrifice. We are extraordinarily proud and forever grateful to Jennifer and for the difference she made at such a young age. Please join me in keeping Jennifer’s family in your thoughts and prayers during this time of profound loss.”
Also on Friday, Rep. Juan Vargas became cosponsor of House Joint Resolution 91, which would appropriate funding for the Department of Defense to finance U.S. military death benefits during a government shutdown, was joined by 424 other Congressional Members in support of the legislation.
“Last weekend, four service members, one of whom (Jennifer Moreno) was from my district, were killed in action,” Vargas said. “Due to the government shutdown, their families were denied military death benefits. This is completely unacceptable. We must honor the memory of those who have given their lives for our country by ensuring that their families receive the benefits they deserve.”
As a result of the current government shutdown, the Department of Defense has been unable to pay military death benefits to eligible family members, putting undo financial hardship on those already dealing with the loss of a loved one.
This bill would ensure that death benefits, such as death gratuity, payments or reimbursements for eligible funeral and burial expenses, and dignified transfer of remains are funded.
“It is inconceivable that surviving family members would be denied military death benefits because the government has been shutdown,” stated Vargas. “This bill is a necessary step to ensure that survivors of fallen servicemen and women receive their benefits, regardless of whether or not the government is operating.”