Rep. Mark Green reintroduces Protecting Gold Star Spouses Act

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Rep. Mark Green reintroduces Protecting Gold Star Spouses Act

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EXCLUSIVE — Rep. Mark Green (R-TN) reintroduced a bill on Wednesday that honors the spouses of those who died while serving in the United States armed forces.

The bill, titled the Protecting Gold Star Spouses Act, ensures that no Gold Star family misses a payment, even during a lapse in federal appropriations. The bill was introduced on Gold Star Spouses Day and was previously introduced in the 116th and 117th Congresses.

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“Designation as a Gold Star Spouse or Child is a designation no one covets,” Green exclusively told the Washington Examiner. “As a nation, we made a promise to care for our fallen heroes’ spouses and children. Lapses in appropriations should never impact Gold Star Families. We owe our warriors the peace of mind that their family is cared for if tragedy strikes. No Gold Star Family should fear for their financial security due to Congress’ inability to pass government funding.”

Green is a combat veteran himself, having served in the U.S. Army and graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Green serves as chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security and is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The bill specifically addresses members of the Coast Guard, who are not part of the Department of Defense but rather the Department of Homeland Security during peacetime. During times of war, members of the Coast Guard are commandeered by the U.S. Navy. But because members of the Coast Guard are part of the DHS, they do not automatically receive all veteran benefits that DoD veterans receive and have been excluded from some legislation in the past.

“Members of the Coast Guard do some of the most dangerous work in the Armed Forces,” Green said when introducing the bill in 2021. “The Coast Guard protects the United States’ economic, national, and border security—their work allows us to sleep more soundly at night. My bill will make sure that these families continue receiving stipends via the Survivor Benefits Plan (SBP) even when there is a lapse in appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security.”

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA) introduced a bill last month that corrects a lapse in a 2016 tax break that excluded Coast Guard families.

“Our servicemembers are the best of us, and the Coast Guard is no exception. It’s our duty to ensure all veterans receive the benefits they deserve,” Warnock said. “Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and Capitol should be eager to get this done.”

The term “gold star” refers to the color of a star on the service flag that started in World War I. The flag had a blue star for every immediate family member serving in the armed forces during a period of war or hostility. If one of the loved ones in the military died, the blue star was replaced by a gold star, which allowed other service members’ families to know the price the family paid in the fight for freedom.

“Our nation is a shining city on a hill known across the globe as ‘land of the free and home of the brave.’ And we have our military men and women, especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, to thank for it,” Green said in an advanced copy of the press release shared with the Washington Examiner. “The families they leave behind, Gold Star Spouses and Children, need to know they will never be forgotten. My legislation protects Gold Star Spouses by ensuring they receive stipends from the federal government, even during a lapse in appropriations. Every Gold Star Family reminds us that freedom comes at a cost, and we must not take it for granted.”

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

Gold star families and spouses are eligible for certain benefits, including different forms of monetary compensation, life insurance for spouses, burial and funeral services, counseling, and specific scholarship opportunities targeted at survivors. There are other options that a current living service member can arrange in the case of their death.

For a full list of benefits, click here.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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