Monday, May 25, 2009
As described in William Wan, A Life Lost, a Plan Derailed, A Fiancee Left in Limbo, Wash. Post, May 25, 2009, this basic principle can cause considerable heartache.
Here are the basic facts of the situation describe in the article:
- Sgt. Michael Hullender (United States Army) was engaged to Kyle Harper (a woman).
- Michael and Kyle considered marriage but elected not to get married.
- Michael was killed in Iraq in 2007.
- Kyle was not notified of his death by the Army; instead, she learned about it from his parents.
- Because being engaged does not create a legally recognized relationship, the Army treated Kyle as if she was unrelated to Michael so she received no casualty pay, no grief counseling, and had no input into his burial.
- Problems developed between Kyle and Michael's biological family members.
- One survey revealed that about 25% of soldiers have non-spousal significant others.
Special thanks to Alfred Brophy (Reef C. Ivey II Professor of Law, University of North Carolina) and his student Elyse Nieves for bringing this article to my attention.