WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today introduced the Gold Star Family Support and Installation Access Act of 2017 in the Senate. The bill would increase support for Gold Star families by creating a standardized policy so these families can more easily access military facilities and certain benefits. Representative Don Bacon (Neb.-02) introduced companion legislation, which passed the House unanimously today.
“Our Gold Star families want one thing: for their loved ones to be remembered. Through this important legislation, Congress can ensure these families have access to services and benefits as they grieve and honor America’s fallen heroes. I applaud my friend Representative Don Bacon for his leadership on this issue in the House. After all these families have lost, we have a solemn obligation to do more for them,” said Senator Fischer.
“The core of this bill is about commitment, a commitment for life, and ensuring as a legislative body we support our Gold Star families and extend to them a small measure of compassion, dignity, and respect that their tremendous sacrifice deserves,” said Representative Bacon.
Under current law, there are no standardized means for Gold Star families to access military facilities to do things like visit a loved one’s gravesite, receive grief counseling, or attend a memorial service. Some services have taken steps to issue access cards, but there is still no consistent policy across military service branches. Additionally, Gold Star spouses lose their on-base benefits if they choose to remarry.
The Gold Star Families Act would address these problems by creating a standard practice of issuing lifetime access cards to all Gold Star Spouses and dependent children. The bill also extends these benefits to gold star spouses, regardless of marital status, as long as their dependent children remain under their guardianship.
Senator Fischer’s bill is the Senate companion to a bill that has received the endorsement of The Air Force Association and the Military Officers Association of America.
Click here to read the text of the Gold Star Family Support and Installation Access Act.