Bustos, Wenstrup Bill to Support Gold Star Families Passes the House

Legislation would extend protections to dependents of fallen and catastrophically injured service members  

Washington – Today, the House unanimously passed Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and Congressman Brad Wenstrup (R-OH)’s bipartisan legislation to support Gold Star families. The Gold Star Spouses and Spouses of Injured Servicemembers Leasing Relief Expansion Act builds on the protections of the Gold Star Spouses and Spouses of Injured Servicemembers Leasing Relief Act, which was signed into law in 2018, and provisions Rep. Bustos was able to secure in the National Defense Authorization Act, which were signed into law in 2019.

“After our service members have sacrificed so much for our country, we must do everything in our power to support their families. That includes ensuring that the children and dependents of these heroic service men and women receive the support and protections they deserve,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “I was proud to work across the aisle with Congressman Wenstrup, to build on the protections extended to Gold Star and injured spouses.”

“We owe our servicemembers a debt of gratitude that extends to their spouses and children as well. When a member of our military pays the ultimate sacrifice or is catastrophically injured, their loved ones need the flexibility to be able to move closer to family for care and support,” said Congressman Wenstrup. “I’m proud to continue leading with Congresswoman Bustos on this important issue.”

The legislation passed today would extend leasing protections to dependents of service members who died or were catastrophically injured while training or deployed, allowing dependents to terminate property leases and automobile leases without penalty.

“We applaud House passage of The Gold Star Spouses and Spouses of Injured Service Members Leasing Relief Expansion Act,” said Heather Ansley, Associate Executive Director of Government Relations at Paralyzed Veterans of America. “Spouses of catastrophically disabled services members should be able to focus on their service member’s health, not unplanned expenses related to terminating residential and automotive leases. We appreciate the efforts of Rep. Bustos, Rep. Wenstrup, and their colleagues to move this legislation forward.”

“TAPS was so grateful for the work put in to pass the Gold Star Leasing Relief Act and we are excited to see this legislation expand protections to the dependents of those who are injured or ill. We want to thank Reps. Bustos and Wenstrup for their work on this bill,” said Ashlynne Haycock, Deputy Director of Policy & Legislation at Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors.

BACKGROUND

Congresswoman Bustos introduced this bill with Congressman Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), after learning about Gold Star spouse Kylie Riney of Fairview, Illinois. Kylie’s life was forever changed on October 18, 2016 when her husband, Sergeant Douglas J. Riney, tragically died defending our freedom in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Kylie and her two young children, who were living in Texas due to Sgt. Riney’s assignment to Fort Hood prior to deployment, chose to move back to their home state of Illinois as they mourned their loss. While trying to make the best decision for her family, Kylie was confronted with costly lease cancelation fees. After passing legislation to allow Gold Star families cancel property leases, Congresswoman Bustos later worked to extend those protections to include automobile leases.

With today’s legislation, dependents will be provided the same protections as Gold Star spouses.

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