Our country is facing its fair share of problems right now. Health care costs are too high, wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living, and our political system seems hellbent on pitting us against each other. The chaos and dysfunction in Washington keeps Congress from getting things done, but there are still some of us who realize we can’t make progress unless we work together.
When I served in Afghanistan and Iraq, I never cared much whether the Marines I served with were Democrats or Republicans. What mattered was completing our mission successfully.
I’ve taken that philosophy to the new For Country Caucus. The For Country Caucus is a group of former service members from both parties who understand that the mission of serving our districts is more important than our party labels.
Currently, our caucus is working across the aisle to pass two common-sense pieces of legislation: the SFC Brian Woods Gold Star and Military Survivors Act and the Gold Star Families Tax Relief Act. These are two common-sense bills that will lessen the burden on the families of our service members who have fallen in the line of duty.
Gold Star Families Tax Relief Act
The Gold Star Families Tax Relief Act will protect the children of Gold Star families from an unjust tax increase on their survivor benefits. After the administration passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017, survivor benefits transferred to the child of a fallen service member were treated as a trust or estate, which led to a major spike in the benefits tax rate. This Act will reclassify children’s survivor benefits as income, lowering the tax rate significantly.
SFC Brian Woods Gold Star and Military Survivors Act
The SFC Brian Woods Gold Star and Military Survivors Act will increase and improve benefits for many Gold Star families. The legislation is named after Army Sergeant 1st Class William B. Woods, who was killed in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2009. The bill allows remarried spouses of fallen service members continued access to on-base facilities if they have dependent children, and ensures that the Pentagon continues the family’s child care service assistant program. Additionally, the bill authorizes spouses who remarry to continue to receive DIC and SBP benefits. Finally, this legislation requires the Pentagon to cover transportation costs for those killed in combat to both their hometown memorial services and a national cemetery of the family’s choosing.
We must always remember, particularly as we reflect on the sacrifice of fallen service members on Memorial Day, that doing the best we can to care for their families is a responsibility we must take seriously and strive to fulfill. There is no better way to express our sincere thanks.
I’m always looking for opportunities to hear from servicemembers, veterans, and their families in my district. Please feel free to stop by one of our offices to meet me and my staff and let us know if there is any way we can serve you. You can find them here:
Bangor Office: 6 State Street, Bangor ME 04401. Phone: (207) 249-7400
Caribou Office: 7 Hatch Drive, Suite 230, Caribou ME 04736. Phone: (207) 492-6009
Lewiston Office: 179 Lisbon Street, Lewiston ME 04240. Phone: (207) 241-6767
Washington Office: 1223 Longworth HOB, Washington DC 20515. Phone: (202) 225-2943
Thank you for allowing me to serve you in Congress. I hope you will continue to keep me informed on the issues that matter to you.
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Member of Congress