Rep. Don Bacon Introduces H.R. 3897, the Gold Star Family Support and Installation Access Act of 2017
WASHINGTON, DC - On Monday, October 2, 2017, Congressman Don Bacon (NE-02) introduced H.R. 3897, the Gold Star Family Support and Installation Access Act of 2017, which would fill in the gaps of current support laws for Gold Star families.
“The core of the Gold Star Bill is about commitment—a commitment for life. I personally know there is nothing more devastating than taking an American Flag from the coffin of a fallen soldier and handing it to the family left behind,” said Rep. Bacon. “I’ve done it too many times. But after hearing the personal stories of so many of our Gold Star families, I learned something else; that we aren’t doing enough to support these families, that we can and must do more, and that we owe these families a Commitment for Life.”
Through conversations with Gold Star families, Rep. Bacon learned the only provision in law today that defines what it means to be a Gold Star family, is presenting a lapel pin to surviving families. Gold Star families’ access to installations is not required in current law and after a period of time, these families also lose that access, prohibiting these families from attending a memorial service or a unit reunion, or receive grief counseling. If a Gold Star spouse remarries, he or she automatically loses all access to their on-base benefits, even if the remarried spouse has dependent children who still have these benefits and have no practical way of using them.
H.R. 3897 addresses these fundamental issues. First, it requires Gold Star spouses and children to have lifetime access to installations and gives the Secretary of Defense the ability to authorize similar access to next of kin. The bill also provides installation access reciprocity between the military services.
Second, H.R. 3897 allows remarried Gold Star spouses to keep their benefits as long as dependent children remain at home.
The eight bipartisan cosponsors of H.R. 3897 are all veterans: Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA), Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Rep. Neal Dunn (R-FL), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ), Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD), and Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK).
Yesterday, Congressman Bacon, joined by six of the original cosponsors, hosted a press conference on the importance of supporting our Gold Star families. Watch the press conference here.