BEACH-MADDEN BILLS AIMED AT INCREASING ACCESS TO INFORMATION FOR GOLD STAR FAMILIES CLEAR SENATE

TRENTON – Two bills sponsored by Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jim Beach and Senator Fred Madden that would create a comprehensive Gold Star families informational webpage and would require all counties to have a designated Gold Star Family Liaison to assist families in accessing available services and resources cleared the Senate today.

“Providing the families of our fallen heroes with access to the resources and benefits available to them is a way to honor their loved ones and show our gratitude for the sacrifice they made to protect our nation and preserve our freedoms,” said Senator Beach (D-Burlington, Camden).

A Gold Star family member is defined as a parent, spouse, domestic or civil union partner, sibling, child, legal guardian, or other legal custodian, whole or half blood or by adoption, of a service member killed while in active duty. The bills are part of a package of legislation sponsored by the senators to support Gold Star families throughout New Jersey.

The first bill (S-2856) would require the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to notify county Veterans Affairs offices, not just the State veterans’ service office currently required under law, within ten days of being notified of the death of a New Jersey service member, and would require every county to have a designated volunteer Gold Star Family Liaison to assist families in accessing the services, benefits and resources available to them.

“New Jersey’s Gold Star families deserve our support,” said Senator Madden (D-Camden, Gloucester). “Alleviating their burdens after such a tragic loss by connecting them with the resources they need and having a go-to person at the local level will prove valuable.”

The second bill (S-2857) would require the Adjutant General to create a public webpage with information specifically for Gold Star families. The comprehensive webpage would include such information as available state benefits, state and county liaisons, a list of service members killed in action and links to other Gold Star family organizations.

The term Gold Star family is a modern reference that comes from the Service Flag, first flown by families during World War I. The flag included a blue star for every immediate family member serving in the armed forces during any period of war or hostilities in which the U.S. armed forces were engaged. If that loved one died, the blue star was replaced by a gold star.

The bills both cleared the Senate and now head to the Assembly for consideration.

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