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  • 20 May 2019 5:09 PM | Membership Office (Administrator)

    The below template is also available as a PDF file


    Date ___________________________

     

    The Honorable _______________________­­­­______

     

    _________________________________________

     

    _________________________________________

      

    Dear Senator ______________________________,

    My name is ___________________________________________________________________.   

    I am a Member of Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. 

    As you may know, Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. is a national organization that represents those of us, who have lost a spouse in the service of our country, either in the line of duty or service-connected injury or disability.

    I would like to thank you for your service to our nation, as my Senator, and also for hearing my concerns. 

    I want to bring your attention, and also seek your support, for Senate Bill 1047, the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) Improvement Act of 2019.

    This bill is critical to surviving spouses and I would like to tell you why it is important to me. 

    The bill creates a fund to ensure that those of us who receive DIC payments would get compensation equal to the compensation paid to federal employee spouses. The fact that military widows are not paid the same as federal government spouses is not fair. As it stands right now, DIC recipients, on average, only receive 43% of a single 100% disabled veteran’s compensation. This bill would create a separate fund that would bring the total compensation to surviving spouses up to 55%, which is on par with other federal survivor programs.

    Now is the time to fulfill the promise made to those of us who have sacrificed, along with our loved one’s. Thank you for your time. If you, or your Veterans’ Affairs staffer would like more information, we have an advocate in Washington, D.C. His name is Lars Anderson and he can be reached at lars.goldstarwives@gmail.com 

    Thank you.


    My Address is:  _____________________________________________________

     

    __________________________________________________________________

     

    __________________________________________________________________

  • 26 Apr 2019 3:28 PM | Anonymous

    DIC Improvement Act of 2019: S. 1047

    WE NEED YOUR VOICE!

    Now is the time for action and we need your help. We have a chance to encourage our Senators to pass Bill S.1047 which would increase DIC for ALL OF US by approximately $300 per month!

    What is Bill S. 1047?

    During the 116th Congress, Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced a free standing bill, entitled Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Improvement  Act of 2019:  S. 1047 which will increase the DIC for survivors from 43% ($1319.04) to 55% ($1681.42) of a single 100% disabled veteran’s compensation * (currently $3057.13).  This bill, if passed into law, will cause no further increase to the SBP/DIC offset.  Bringing DIC compensation to 55% would provide parity with other Federal survivor programs.  All military survivors currently receiving DIC will realize an approximate increase of $300/month.

    *2001 Public Law 107-107 states a deceased service member is the equivalent of 100% disabled, which is why the increase used is compared to a single 100% disabled veteran’s compensation.

    Why does S. 1047 matter to me?

    The latest statistics from the Veterans Benefit Administration Annual Benefits Report of Fiscal Year 2018, updated as of September 30, 2018, indicates that 422,979 surviving spouses receive DIC. They represent 95.90% of total DIC recipients. (The other DIC recipients are children and parents who number: 17,402 or 4.10%). If S.1047 is passed, it means that each of us will get approximately $300 per month in addition to the DIC we currently receive.

    How can I help?

                    We have just two years to tell our Senators to get this bill passed before we would have to start all over again with a new Senate. You can help by contacting your Senators and urging them to co-sponsor and VOTE for S.1047.

    How do I contact my Senators?

                    Call:      (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Senator.

    What do I say?

                    My name is ______________. I am the military widow of ________________who was KIA in _______________ or died of a service connected disability related to____________ while in service to this country. I am a member of the Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. I am requesting that you agree to co-sponsor and VOTE for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Improvement Act of 2019: S. 1047.

    It is a Bill that will increase the Military Surviving Spouses’ compensation known as DIC to be at the same percentage (55%) of compensation that a Federal Employee’s Surviving spouse receives. DIC has not had an increase except for COLA since 1993. The income of many of these older surviving spouses is only from DIC and perhaps a little Social Security.  Thank you for your time and attention to my request.


  • 9 Apr 2019 10:53 AM | Anonymous

     FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  S.1047: DIC Improvement Act of 2019

    April 5, 2019

    Tester Fights for Stronger Benefits for Montana’s 1,000 Gold Star Family Members

    Senator recognizes Gold Star Wives Day with bill to bolster support for survivors of those killed in line of duty

    (U.S. Senate) – On Gold Star Wives Day, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is introducing legislation to better support spouses and children who have lost a loved one in service to this country.

    More than 1,000 Montana family members of service members who died in the line of duty, and of disabled veterans who died from a service-connected condition receive a monthly Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Benefit from the VA. Tester’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Improvement Act will give these family members an additional $300 per month. Doing so would make it fairer by bringing benefits for surviving military families more in line with federal employee and Department of Defense survivor benefits. 

    “Families who are grieving the loss of a parent who served this country should never face financial uncertainty,” said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “These brave men and women have paid the ultimate sacrifice and it’s our duty to give their loved ones more economic security.”

    Tester’s bill also ensures survivors aren’t penalized for receiving these benefits by preventing an unfair offset that denies them the compensation to which they are entitled. Nearly 200 Montanans currently face this offset.

    Veterans and Gold Star families support Tester’s bill. 

    “I am grateful and very thankful that the Senate is willing to bring attention to those surviving spouses that have fallen far behind other federal programs and therefore have not gotten the full benefit of the ultimate sacrifice that our service members made," said Crystal Wenum, National President of the Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. “We think this is an issue that spans partisan politics and brings well deserved parity with other federal programs.  It is the right thing to do and I thank Senator Tester and the Co-Sponsors that have brought this attention to the DIC issue."

    “We applaud Senator Tester for reintroducing the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Improvement Act in the 116th Congress,” said DAV National Commander Dennis Nixon. “DAV strongly recommends this legislation that provides greater support to deserving survivors of disabled veterans. A veteran’s lifelong disability or service-related death can result in undue economic hardship on their spouse and children; this legislation increases financial support for them after the passing of their loved one. We’re grateful Senator Tester has continuously advocated for not just service-connected disabled veterans, but for their families as well.”Tester’s bill can be read online HERE


  • 29 Mar 2019 5:35 PM | Anonymous

    Reps. Waltz, Moulton, Bacon Introduce Legislation to Enhance Benefits For Gold Star Families and Military Survivors


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Thursday, March 28, 2019

    Contact:Joanna Rodriguez

    202-225-2706

     Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, Representative Michael Waltz (FL-R), a combat veteran and member of the House Armed Services Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation with Representatives Seth Moulton (MA-D) and Don Bacon (NE-R) that would increase the benefits for Gold Star families.

    H.R.1911, or “The SFC Brian Woods Gold Star and Military Survivors Act,” is named in honor of Army Sgt. 1st Class William B. Woods Jr. who served with Waltz as an Army Green Beret and was killed on August 16, 2009 in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.

    The bill would:

    • Allow survivors that re-married to continue to have access to on-base facilities if they have dependent children;
    • Allow surviving spouses of servicemembers who were killed while on duty to continue to receive DIC or SBP should they re-marry and ensures survivors that re-married before the bill becomes law are eligible to collect benefits moving forward;
    • Direct the Pentagon to pay the transportation costs of remains for those killed in combat back to their hometown for any memorial services AND to a national cemetery of the surviving family’s choice (current law only authorizes one trip); and
    • Authorize the Pentagon to extend the existing child care service assistance program (for civilian providers) to survivors of servicemembers that die in the line of duty.

    “The knock on the door that initiates a family into the Gold Star community is the most dreaded moment in a military family’s life,” Waltz said. “From that moment forward, these families deserve our best and most meaningful commitment in honor of their loved one’s sacrifice for our freedom and security. This bill would ensure the Gold Star families of our fallen are cared for by giving their children and spouses the lifelong benefits they deserve and transportation costs for a burial and memorial worthy of their sacrifice.”

    “When Gold Star spouses are handed a folded flag, it comes with a sacred commitment from the American people. That commitment is for life,” said Moulton. “That means Gold Star families should have the peace of mind that comes with knowing child care and funeral expenses are taken care of and that they will receive the nation’s lifelong financial support.”

    “Our Gold Star and surviving family members deserve a commitment for life,” Bacon said. “The SFC Brian Woods Gold Star and Military Survivors Act keeps faith with the spouses and families of the fallen. Since becoming a Member of Congress I have committed myself to this cause. This legislation builds on the important progress we made last year and I am proud to co-sponsor this important next step with fellow veteran Representative Waltz.”  

    A PDF of the bill is available here.


  • 28 Mar 2019 2:57 PM | Membership Office (Administrator)

    GSW National President Crystal Wenum testified at the Joint Hearing of the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees along with multiple Veterans Service Organizations (NASDVA, FRA, GSW, BVA,JWV, MORH, MOAA). 

    You can watch the recorded hearing at the link HERE.

    Additional testimony materials will be added shortly. 

  • 28 Mar 2019 2:47 PM | Membership Office (Administrator)

    Senator Doug Jones from Alabama has written an article published in the New American Journal as well as The Wetumpka Herald arguing to end the Military Widows Tax and references support of the bill from Gold Star Wives and also mentions "In fact, several Gold Star Wives visited me in the Senate this past week to show their support for this bill in person." 

    As you can see, calls and visits to your elected officials can help make positive gains. 

    You can view the entire article at Wetumpka Herald or New American Journal

  • 19 Mar 2019 3:27 PM | Anonymous

    Current Legislation 116th Congress

    116th (2019-2020) Congressional Legislation of Interest to GSW

    Dependent Indemnity Compensation (DIC):

    DIC has only been increased by Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) since 1993. GSW is looking for a primary sponsor and passage of a bill to increase DIC to the 55% level; this would make DIC equitable with other Federal employee survivor benefit plans.  The GRC of GSW is currently working with Senator Tester’s office to introduce a “stand alone” bill to correct this inequity.

     Even a “Sunset Provision” would be favorable. This would mean a gradual increase over a period of time. For example: a 3% increase every year for 10 years. The monthly DIC is payable to surviving spouses by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    Survivor Benefit Pension/DIC Offset (SBP/DIC):

    H.R. 553:  Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act was introduced in the House by Representative Joe Wilson (D-SC) and S.622: as introduced in the Senate by Senator Doug Jones (R-AL). Both bills are: “To amend title 10, United States Code, to repeal the requirement for reduction of survivor annuities under the Survivor Benefit Plan by veterans’ dependency and indemnity compensation.” S.622 is a companion bill for H.R. 553. GSW supports their passage.

    Change in GSW’s Federal Charter:

    US code: Title 36>Subtitle II>Part B Section 80507, Restrictions: b) Political Activities: The corporation, or director or officer as such may not contribute in any political activity or in any manner attempt to influence legislation. GSW wishes to eliminate the last few words of Section80507 (b) “in any manner attempt to influence legislation.” GSW is currently looking for a House and Senate sponsor.

    Education:

    Public Law No: 115-48 (08/16/2017)

    Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017

    This bill revises education and related benefits provided to veterans, service members, dependents, and survivors.

    The bill amends the Post-9/11 veterans' educational assistance program to:

    • remove certain time restrictions on program use;
    • increase assistance for reservists, guardsmen, dependents, and surviving spouses and dependents;
    • provide full eligibility for Post-9/11 Purple Heart recipients and certain reservists and guardsmen;
    • provide an extra academic years' worth of benefits for STEM (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics) degree candidates;
    • establish a five-year pilot program for high technology courses;
    • restore eligibility for service members whose school closes in the middle of a semester;
    • authorize funding to improve claims processing;
    • permit assistance to be used at certain institutions that are not institutions of higher education; and
    • pro-rate the housing stipend for reservists called to active duty.

    The bill authorizes the Edith Nurse Rogers STEM Scholarship to help veterans complete STEM degrees.

    The Yellow Ribbon program is extended to Fry Scholarship recipients (surviving dependents of service members who died on active duty) and certain Purple Heart recipients. (The Yellow Ribbon program helps veterans pay for higher education tuition and fee costs not covered by the Post-9/11 program.)

    The bill: (1) extends the Advisory Committee on Education, (2) increases survivors' and dependents' educational assistance, and (3) extends funding for state educational program approving agencies.

    The bill provides statutory authority for the VetSuccess on Campus program, which provides veterans with on-campus educational and vocational counseling.

    The Department of Veterans Affairs shall make a new determination regarding each denied veteran's claim for disability compensation in connection with full-body exposure to mustard gas or Lewisite at specified locations during World War II and resolve reasonable doubt in favor of the veteran.


  • 7 Mar 2019 1:18 PM | Membership Office (Administrator)

    Gold Star Wives will be delivering testimony before a Joint Hearing of the Senate and the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee. The hearing will take place at:

    10:00 am
    Tuesday, March 12, 2019
    Room SD-G50
    Dirksen Senate Office Building
    Washington, DC

    GSW National President Crystal Wenum will be delivering the testimony. We will update the web site with the testimony afterwards.

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Gold Star Wives is a Congressionally Chartered non-profit service organization that is capable of providing services to the active duty and service-connected military surviving spouses.

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Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. is a non-profit 501(C)4 National Military Widow/Widowers Service Organization chartered by the United States Congress. Donations are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes but may be deductible as trade or business expenses.

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