My grandmother was a Gold Star mother and I always knew how honorable that title was to her. My father was a veterans benefits agent and he taught me the importance of advocating for our military families, especially those who had a loved one make the ultimate sacrifice.
It is my belief that one of our Nation's greatest duties, and the truest way to honor our fallen heroes, is to ensure their surviving family are taken care of. Tragically, many of our fallen heroes are young, which often means their sole survivors are their parents. That is why I authored and introduced the Gold Star Families Equality Act last Memorial Day.
That bill would grant Gold Star parents access to retail, exchange, and commissary benefits currently only afforded to surviving spouses. It would also create a special identification for Gold Star family members that way they never need to explain who they are in order to access installations or take advantage of discounts currently afforded to military families by many businesses throughout the country.
As we once again approach Memorial Day, I am pleased to announce that late last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed a critical portion of that bill supporting the creation of Gold Star Family Cards by all branches of the Armed Forces.
A credentialed identification card may seem like too small a response to their child's death, but this provision was the product of many conversations I have had with local families whose children have made the ultimate sacrifice.
We cannot limit the benefits for our Gold Star survivors solely to spouses and children when parents too are making this incredible sacrifice. And we cannot place the burden on parents to explain time and time again that they too are a Gold Star family.
If this provision passes the Senate, I will then start working with senior officials at our Armed Forces to try to make these cards a reality as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
It is my hope the Gold Star Family Cards will service as a tangible reminder that our Nation stands behind our Gold Star families and always will.