Bilirakis: Extend Education Aid to Families of Deceased Reservists
The bipartisan bill seeks to make more spouses and children of members of the National Guard and Reserves eligible for Fry scholarships.
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Tarpon Springs, has co-sponsored a bill that would make the spouses and children of deceased members of the National Guard and Reserves eligible for Fry scholarships if the death was service connected.
Under current rules, spouses and children of members of deceased National Guard and Reserves are not eligible for Fry scholarships unless the death was happened while the service member was on active duty.
Bilirakis’ proposal would extend eligibility for the Fry Scholarship to surviving spouses and children of deceased National Guard and Reserve members whose deaths are deemed service-connected by Veterans Administration, but who died while not on active-duty if the death occurred within four years of the service member’s last discharge. Click here for more information about the Fry scholarship. Click here to read a copy of the bill, known as the Fry Scholarship Improvement Act of 2019.
“We must do everything in our power to support the families of fallen service members,” Bilirakis said. “This bipartisan bill closes a loophole in statute that prevented the spouses and children of reservists who die from a service-connected condition but were not on active duty at the time of their death. These brave men and women have paid the ultimate price in defense of our nation, and this is the least we can do to honor their sacrifice.”
The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Levin, D-CA, chair of the Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity; Sen. James Lankford, R-OK: Sen. Tom Carper, D-DE; and Rep. Phil Roe, R-TN, ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. It is supported by the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors and Veteran Service Organizations.
“Since 1944, the G.I. Bill has transformed our country and the lives of millions of veterans, including me,” Carper said. “Today, it continues to give millions of veterans and their family members the chance to learn a skill, go to college and gain access to economic opportunities that never before had been possible. But right now, there is a technicality under the law that is leaving behind many families of those service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
“My bill with Sen. Lankford aims to fix that by providing the Fry scholarship to spouses and children of members of the National Guard and Reserves who died of service connected causes but whose deaths did not occur under active duty. We owe it to these surviving families to ensure they receive the full benefits of the GI Bill – one of the greatest pieces of legislation we have ever passed in this country.”
Ashlynne Haycock, TAPS deputy director of policy and legislation, said, “Creating parity for Guard and Reserve surviving families has long been a priority for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. TAPS was founded in response to an Army National Guard loss in 1994, so this issue holds particular significance for our organization. We are incredibly grateful to Rep. Bilirakis and Rep. Levin for introducing the Fry Scholarship Improvement Act of 2019, which will benefit approximately 1,500 Guard and Reserve surviving spouses and children by giving them access to the same education benefits available to survivors of active duty service members.”
Bilirakis represents Florida’s 12th Congressional District, which includes north Pinellas and Hillsborough counties and all of Pasco County.
For information about Bilirakis, go to bilirakis.house.gov.
Gus Bilirakis | Politics | Veterans | Education | Tampabay News
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