WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWTI) — New legislation has been introduced by a North Country lawmaker to support families of fallen soldiers.
Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and Congressman Andy Kim have introduced the Gold Star Spouses Non- Monetary Benefits Act, which if passed, would restore non-monetary survivor benefits to the remarried spouses of fallen U.S. veterans.
According to Stefanik, following loss of their service members, Gold Star spouses will sometimes face difficulties from the change to single incomes to access to healthcare benefits.
She added that the Department of Defense and Department of Veteran Affairs provide various benefits to assist with those hardship, however, many are forfeited once a surviving spouse remarries before age 57.
The legislation would apply to surviving spouses who are deemed eligible for the Gold Star Lapel Button regardless of if they remarry.
“Gold Star spouses are already faced with the devastating loss of their loved ones who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country – they should not be forced to endure further hardships as they attempt to rebuild their lives,” said Congresswoman Stefanik. “By suspending survivor’s benefits because of remarriage, we are breaking faith with Gold Star spouses who are depending on us to help them through some of the most difficult circumstances. This bill seeks to change that, and instead honor our military families and support them through the tragic and unfortunate loss of their loved ones.”
“We owe our Gold Star Spouses more than just our thanks; we owe them the benefits they’ve earned through their own service and sacrifice,” added Congressman Andy Kim. “I’m proud to work alongside Congresswoman Stefanik in standing up for our Gold Star Spouses, and look forward to moving this important bipartisan effort through Congress.”
As stated in the legislation text, if passed, it would reinstate eligibility for the federal noncompetitive hiring appointment, access to commissaries, Morale, Welfare, and Recreation retail facilities, restoration of access to pre-transitional TRICARE services for the traditional three-year period, and eligibility for the Veteran Affairs-guaranteed home loan benefit if the survivor is unable to qualify based on his or her own service.
Full descriptions on the Gold Star Spouses Non- Monetary Benefits Act can be read here.