Panetta, Bipartisan For Country Caucus Endorse Legislation to Improve Benefits for Gold Star Families
WASHINGTON, DC – This week, Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) and the bipartisan For Country Caucus unanimously endorsed legislation to improve benefits for Gold Star families. H.R.1911, “The SFC Brian Woods Gold Star and Military Survivors Act,” is named in honor of Army Sgt. 1st Class William B. Woods Jr. who served as an Army Green Beret with Congressman Michael Waltz (R-FL), vice-chair of the caucus. Woods was killed in Afghanistan on August 16, 2009 during Operation Enduring Freedom.
"Families of our fallen servicemembers confront many challenges. We should be enacting policies that lessen their hardships and honor the memory of their sacrifice," said Congressman Panetta, founder and chair of the For Country Caucus. "Ahead of Memorial Day, the For Country Caucus is demonstrating our shared commitment to serving our nation’s Gold Star families."
"The moment a family hears a knock on the door initiating them into the Gold Star community is a moment which changes their lives forever," Congressman Waltz said. "These families deserve the most meaningful commitment we can give them to honor their loved one’s sacrifice for our freedom and security. I’m grateful the For Country Caucus is joining me to support these families with this important legislation."
"Military families are bound by the solemn truth that service often carries a terrible price. As a veteran who has presented flags to the families of our fallen teammates, I believe our great nation can and should do more," caucus co-chair Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) said. "Those that commit their lives to our security deserve more than our thanks – they deserve our commitment. For this reason, I am proud to stand with the members of the For Country Congressional Caucus in endorsing Representative Waltz’s bill which strengthens this commitment."
"As a nation, we are forever indebted to our Gold Star families, the families of the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms," said caucus vice chair Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA). "I’m honored to cosponsor this bipartisan legislation that would guarantee Gold Star families receive their earned benefits and not be subjected to harmful tax hikes. What they gave for this country can never be repaid; We must do all we can to support them."
The bill would:
- Allow survivors who re-married to continue to have access to on-base facilities if they have dependent children;
- Allow surviving spouses of servicemembers who were killed on duty to continue to receive DIC or SBP should they re-marry and ensures survivors who re-married before the bill becomes law are eligible to collect benefits moving forward;
- Direct the Pentagon to pay transportation costs of remains for those killed in combat back to their hometown for any memorial services AND to a national cemetery of the surviving family’s choice (current law only authorizes one trip); and
- Authorize the Pentagon to extend the existing child care service assistance program (for civilian providers) to survivors of servicemembers who die in the line of duty.
The bill text is available here.