As we begin 2021 and the beginning of the 117th Congress, I wanted to send a note to discuss some of the legislative accomplishments for the Gold Star Wives of America during the last year of the 116th Congress. The Government Relations Committee (GRC) has been busy promoting our legislative priorities, making phone calls and writing letters to Members of Congress; while informing the members of GSW of the progress on our priorities.
Following up on success after years of pushing for the elimination of the SBP-DIC offset, we have had other significant wins this year. I’d like to highlight a few of these accomplishments:
Remarriage Penalty: One of our top legislative priorities has been to change the DIC remarriage age from 57 to 55, which makes it the same as other federal survivor programs. This huge accomplishment has happened, thanks in large part to Senator Tester, and his staff. I’m proud of the work that GSW has done over the years to help make this a reality..
Cheryl Lankford Memorial Act: As many of you are aware, Cheryl Lankford, an active member of our organization for many years, lost her battle with cancer. The Cheryl Lankford Memorial Act ensures that Casualty Assistance Officers are assigned to dependent children of surviving spouses who have passed.
Agent Orange Exposure: Through our work with the TEAM Coalition (a group of veterans and military service organizations), three new diseases from Agent Orange exposure were added to the VA list of presumptive conditions including hypothyroidism, bladder cancer, and Parkinson disease.
There were more successes, such as the expanded eligibility for the Fry Scholarship; creating protections against predatory groups for those using their GI Bill benefits; and addressing the issues for surviving spouses of Veterans with underlying service-connected health issues, who died of COVID-19.
As we continue to work and introduce our legislative priorities for the 117th Congress, I want to assure you that increasing the DIC for all recipients is our number one priority. As legislation is introduced, we will be sure to make you all aware of the bill numbers so that you can help us by reaching out to your Members of Congress. As always, thanks for your support and commitment to our legislative priorities.
Let’s make 2021 another successful year!
Washington DC Advocate for
Gold Star Wives of America, Inc.