WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Eric Schmitt (R-MO), and Mark Kelly (D-AZ) introduced the Gold Star and Surviving Spouse Career Services Act. The bill increases access to job counseling services for spouses of members of the Armed Forces who died while on active duty – “surviving spouses” – through the Disabled Veterans Outreach Program, a program housed within the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service at the Department of Labor. The program provides every state with funding to hire specialists who provide individualized career counseling services to eligible veterans. The billwould expand the program so that surviving spouses can also use these services.
“We often thank the wife or husband of those serving overseas for their sacrifice,” said Dr. Cassidy. “If we really mean this, then a Gold Star spouse should be able to continue to access the services that they accessed when their husband or wife was alive.”
“After the terrible loss of a service member, we must do everything that we can to support their families,” said Senator Hassan. “This bipartisan bill is a commonsense way to help address the challenges that surviving spouses can face in their careers, and we must continue working to support our service members and their families.”
“We have an obligation to stand behind the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our country,” said Senator Kelly. “Making sure surviving spouses have the services they need to get a good-paying job to support their families after their loss is the least our government can do.”
Cassidy is a strong advocate for veterans and their families. Last year, Cassidy passed and had signed into law the Solid Start Act, which requires the VA to contact every veteran three times within their first year of separation from the military to connect them with programs and benefits, including mental health resources. Since then, he has introduced legislation to help families and caseworkers secure the records of prisoners of war and those missing in action, and to prevent the implementation of the Oracle Cerner electronic health record system until improvements are made.