The bipartisan For Country Caucus announced this week that they were endorsing Florida rep. Michael Waltz’s (R) legislation to improve benefits for Gold Star Families.
H.R.1911 is “the SFC Brian Woods Gold Star and Military Survivors Act,” which is named in honor of Army Sgt. 1stClass William B. Woods Jr. who served with Congressman Waltz as an Army Green Beret.
Woods was killed in Afghanistan on August 16th, 2009 during Operation Enduring Freedom.
California rep. Jimmy Panetta (D), the founder and chair of the For Country Caucus, released a statement, expressing that “families of our fallen servicemembers confront many challenges.” Because of that, “we should be enacting policies that lessen their hardships and honor the memory of their sacrifice.”
Specifically, the legislation would allow survivors who re-married to continue to have access to on-base facilities if they have children who are dependent on them. It would allow surviving spouses of servicemembers who were killed on duty to continue receiving SBP or DIC should they re-marry and ensures survivors who re-married before the bill takes effect are eligible to collect benefits moving forward. It would direct the Pentagon to pay any transportation costs of remains for those killed in combat back to their hometown for any memorial services and to a national cemetery that the surviving family chooses. Finally, it would authorize the Pentagon to extend the existing child care service assistance program to survivors of servicemembers who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
Florida rep. Waltz commented on the need for the legislation, saying that “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.”
Waltz asserted that “these families deserve the most meaningful commitment we can give them to honor their loved one’s sacrifice for our freedom and security.”