USF grad and soldier honored after dying in Afghanistan as nonprofit picks up tab for military death benefits

Mourners gathered at the University of San Francisco on Wednesday to honor a 2010 nursing graduate who was killed Sunday while serving her first military tour in Afghanistan.

Army 1st Lt. Jennifer Moreno, 25, was killed along with three other soldiers by a roadside suicide bomb attack, Gov. Jerry Brown’s office announced Tuesday.

Also on Wednesday, the Obama administration, scrambling to tamp down a controversy over suspended benefits for the families of fallen troops, announced that a charity would pick up the costs of the payments during the government shutdown.

“The Fisher House Foundation will provide the families of the fallen with the benefits they so richly deserve,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, adding that the Pentagon would reimburse the foundation.

Moreno was a graduate of USF’s School of Nursing and Health Professions and was honored Wednesday with a flag-lowering ceremony at the Lone Mountain flag court, according to university spokeswoman Anne-Marie Devine.

Hagel said Fisher House, which works with veterans, had approached the Pentagon about the payments. The Defense Department usually pays families about $100,000 within three days of a service member’s death, but officials say the shutdown stopped those payments.

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