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Reps. Introduce Bill to Ensure Gold Star Spouse Benefits During Shutdowns

January 30, 2019, 7:56 AM HST
* Updated January 30, 7:57 AM
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Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawai‘i-02) and Mark Green (Tenn.-07) introduced bipartisan legislation on Jan. 30, 2019, to pay tribute to Gold Star families and ensure they receive the benefits they deserve through their sacrifice.

The Protecting Gold Star Spouses Act would allow Coast Guard Gold Star Spouses to continue receiving Survivor Benefits Plan (SBP) payments from the federal government even during a lapse in appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security.

“Our veterans put their lives on the line for our country, with some paying the ultimate price, and their families sacrifice greatly,” Rep. Gabbard, founder and co-chair of the Post-9/11 Veterans Caucus, said. “It is our solemn responsibility to honor them, support their families, and stand by them to ensure their families receive the benefits that they’ve earned. It’s a slap in the face to use our veterans and their families as political pawns. Our bipartisan legislation will ensure that Gold Star families won’t have to worry about whether or not they’ll be able to afford to pay the rent or put food on the table in the event of a government shutdown.”

“Gold Star families have suffered enough—they don’t need to be used as political pawns during games of partisan brinkmanship,” said Rep. Green, a veteran who did tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. “As a military veteran, I know many Gold Star families that have overcome devastating loss and adversity. The last thing they need is to worry whether or not they will receive their next check.”

“Shutdowns cause undue harm and stress for our military families. The VFW was glad when Congress moved last year to ensure survivors receive the death gratuity benefit under government shutdowns,” said VFW National Legislative Service Director Carlos Fuentes. “We thank Congressman Mark Green for his leadership to make certain all military families are protected. What America’s Coast Guard does daily allows the rest of us to sleep easier at night. This bill would rightfully treat Coast Guard SBP benefits similar to the other military services.”

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Current law does not protect Coast Guard Gold Star Spouse benefits, while servicemembers organized under the Department of Defense continue to receive survivor benefits during a government shutdown. This breaks the promise to our American heroes who lost their lives in the line of duty in the Coast Guard, Rep. Gabbard’s press release said. This bill would protect Gold Star Spouses who are at risk during any upcoming or future shutdown. The Protecting Gold Star Spouses Act of 2019 would ensure America keeps the promises it made to its heroes. If signed into law, this bill will ensure that no SBP payment is ever missed.

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