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.