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 were signed into law today.
“Providing Gold Star family members with convenient access to information about the services and benefits available to them, whether online or in-person through a liaison, will prove helpful in connecting them with the services they need at the state and local county levels,” 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 first law (S-2856) will 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 will 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.
“Designating a liaison in every county and notifying county offices of the death of a New Jersey service member will allow Gold Star Family members to immediately access any necessary services when tragedy strikes,” said Senator Madden (D-Camden, Gloucester). “This law will help families ease that added burden of trying to access support and benefits at an already difficult time.”
The second law (S-2857) will require the Adjutant General to create a public webpage with information specifically for Gold Star families. The comprehensive webpage will 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.
S-2856 takes effect on the 60th day following enactment, except that the Department of Military and Veterans’ Affairs and county veterans’ affairs offices may take any anticipatory administrative action in advance as necessary for implementation. S-2857 takes effect on the 180th day after enactment, except that the Adjutant General may take any anticipatory administrative action in advance as necessary for its implementation.