Fort Hood Army Accident: Fundraising for Families of the 9 Victims Gets Complicated
June 2 was a sad day for the U.S. military.
Nine lives were ended that day when an Army truck with a dozen on board overturned in flood waters at Fort Hood, Texas. Three were rescued.
The same day, Marine Capt. Jeff Kuss, 32, pilot of the famous Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron, crashed and died during practice in Smyrna, Tenn.
An outpouring of support came for the families of victims—within a few days, multiple fundraising campaigns were set up on GoFundMe.
The campaign for Capt. Kuss, the pilot, raised $100,000 in the first day and almost $300,000 by June 8.
The campaign for Staff Sgt. Miguel Colon-Vazquez, at 38 the oldest among the Fort Hood accident victims, raised less than $2,500 by June 8.
A short report appeared online on June 6 warning of “GoFundMe scams” related to the Fort Hood accident.
“There has already been one GoFundMe listed for a family that has since been taken down,” states the report posted on websites of multiple local TV stations.
The legitimacy of the campaign for Capt. Kuss is underscored by his wife, Christina Kuss, who posted a comment on the GoFundMe page using her Facebook profile.
The campaign for Sgt. Colon-Vazquez was set up by Angel Colon, who is, according to his Facebook profile, Colon-Vazquez’s brother. Yet the campaign’s text states it was set up by Angel Colon’s friends Adam and Phyllis Cosenza.
“As Angel has said, ‘Any money will be for the children’,” the page states. It is not clear if the money is meant for Sgt. Colon-Vazquez’s children (he was a father of four) or for the children of Angel Colon.
There’s another GoFundMe campaign that seems to be raising money for the families of the Fort Hood victims, but Epoch Times was unable to verify any connection between the campaign and the victims’ families.
There doesn’t appear to be any specific fundraising pages for any of the other Fort Hood victims’ families.
But that doesn’t mean there’s no support.
The Army reimburses funeral expenses for personnel in active duty.
The Army should also provide information to the Veteran Affairs (VA) for processing of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance.
If the victims didn’t opt out (which is not recommended) or lower their coverage, the insurance should pay $400,000 to each family.
“These types of claims are expedited and are paid to beneficiaries within two business days of [the responsible VA office] receiving all required documentation,” said VA spokeswoman Meagan Heup in an email reply.
The Army launched two investigation into the Fort Hood accident, according to Army Times.
The accident happened during a historic flooding in Texas. The soldiers were learning to drive their truck—a Light Medium Tactical Vehicle—but it got stuck and overturned at the Owl Creek Tactical low-water crossing and East Range Road.
The road isn’t marked as a low-water crossing, which means it typically isn’t prone to flooding. Roads prone to flooding were already closed. Due to the unusually heavy rain, the Fort Hood Department of Emergency Services advised to close additional roads and that’s when the accident happened, a Fort Hood official told the Army Times.
The victims were:
- Cadet Mitchell Alexander Winey, 21, from Indiana.
- Staff Sgt. Miguel Angel Colonvazquez, 38, from Brooklyn, New York.
- Spc. Christine Faith Armstrong, 27, from Twentynine Palms, California.
- Spc. Yingming Sun, 25, of Monterey Park, California.
- Pfc. Brandon Austin Banner, 22, from Milton, Florida.
- Pfc. Zachery Nathaniel Fuller, 23, from Palmetto, Florida.
- Pvt. Isaac Lee Deleon, 19, of San Angelo, Texas.
- Pvt. Eddy Raelaurin Gates, 20, of Dunn, North Carolina.
- Pvt. Tysheena Lynette James, 21, of Jersey City, New Jersey.