Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (NY-21), along with Congressman Andy Kim (NJ-3), have introduced the bipartisan Gold Star Spouses Non-Monetary Benefits Act – a bill that would restore non-monetary survivor benefits to the remarried spouses of fallen U.S. service members. This legislation applies to surviving spouses who are eligible for the Gold Star Lapel Button without regard for whether they have remarried.
Following the loss of their service members, Gold Star spouses often face difficulties ranging from the change to single incomes to access to healthcare benefits. The Department of Defense and Department of Veteran Affairs provide various benefits to assist with those hardships. However, many of those benefits are forfeited once a surviving spouse remarries before age 57, or in some cases, age 55.
This bill specifically reinstates 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.
“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,” said 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.”
Read more about the bill here.