BEACH-MADDEN BILLS AIMED AT INCREASING ACCESS TO INFORMATION FOR GOLD STAR FAMILIES HEAD TO GOVERNOR

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 Assembly today.

“Often times, Gold Star family members don’t know where to turn to get specific information they need about the services and benefits available to them,” said Senator Beach (D-Burlington, Camden). “Providing easy and centralized access to this information, and at a local level, will assist them in figuring out what steps they need to take.”

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.

“After such a tragic loss, connecting Gold Star Family members with experienced professionals to help access support and benefits will provide a much-needed service,” said Senator Madden (D-Camden, Gloucester).

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 cleared the Senate on Monday and now head to the governor for consideration.

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