With Memorial Day approaching, a bill was introduced in Congress to help Purple Heart beneficiaries

WASHINGTON — When Purple Heart beneficiary Patty contacted U.S. Sen. Patty Murray in November and informed her that he couldn’t pass on his health insurance benefits to his children, he didn’t expect Congress to solve the problem.

He just wanted to let the Washington state Democrat know, he told States Newsroom in an exclusive interview.

Pat, who did not want his name to go to college, was recently scheduled to go to college. The Army recently told him he couldn’t transfer his educational benefits to them because he received a Purple Heart after being discharged from the hospital. . This rule does not apply to those who received the medal during service.

Murray and Thom Tillis, Republicans from North Carolina, introduced bipartisan legislation on Thursday to close that loophole.

Act, titled Purple Heart Veterans Education Actwould allow retroactive award recipients who served on or after September 11, 2001 to transfer educational benefits to one or more of their dependents.

“As the daughter of a Purple Heart recipient, I have seen firsthand the tremendous sacrifices Purple Heart veterans make to defend our freedoms, and I firmly believe that we should do absolutely everything in our power to help all veterans and their families thrive ” – she added. Murray said in a statement on Thursday.

“It makes no sense whatsoever that service members who are awarded the Purple Heart after serving cannot transfer their GI benefits to their dependents, while those who receive them while serving can – and I am grateful to Pat, my voter in Washington state who brought this loophole to my attention,” continued Murray, a senior member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

“Our legislation will close this loophole and enable more children of Purple Heart veterans to continue their education. I want to thank Senator Tillis for joining me on this legislation and I will work hard to get it passed.”

Error in educational benefits

Pat was discharged from the U.S. Army and retroactively received a Purple Heart for his actions during Iran’s January 2020 retaliatory missile fire on an Iraqi air base after a U.S. drone killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

The Army later approved 39 Purple Hearts for soldiers who experienced the attack, According to to the December 2021 Army Times report.

As his teenager plans to enroll at Central Washington University next year, Pat learned that by law his educational benefits would only be available for transfer if he received an award during his service.

“My thought was, ‘I doubt lawmakers would do this on purpose.’ I just thought, you know, people probably just haven’t thought about how this happens – that some people get Purple Hearts retroactively or for some reason they are late in their evaluation. So it’s not unusual,” Pat said in a telephone interview.

“I didn’t think much would happen, but I just wanted to write to Senator Murray, who is my local senator, and let her know about the problem. They responded by saying, “This is an oversight on our part and we want to correct it.”

Pat said he is “grateful to Senator Murray” and hopes his action will help other Purple Heart veterans. He added that for now, his family is moving forward with the process of enrolling their child in college.

Benefits and Dependents

Among the legislation, the Murray-Tillis bill would also allow veterans to split 36 ​​months’ worth of benefits among each of their dependents. For example, they could transfer 20 months to one and 16 months to the other.

The bill, if enacted, would also prohibit benefits from being treated as marital or marital property.

Additionally, the bill would allow dependents to access unused benefits in the event of the death of their veteran family member.

“Purple Heart recipients are heroes who have honorably served our country at great cost, and the oversight that prevents soldiers who received this unique award after their service from passing on GI Bill benefits to their dependents needs to be corrected immediately,” she said. Tillis in a statement Thursday.

“I am proud that Senator Murray and I are introducing this commonsense legislation to close this loophole and ensure that every Purple Heart recipient and their dependents have the opportunity to continue their education,” continued Tillis, who also serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

The number of veterans who retroactively received the Purple Heart after serving after 9/11 is unclear. The bill would cost $500,000 in mandatory spending over 10 years, according to an informal analysis provided to Murray’s office by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

The bill was praised by veterans groups, including American veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Unfortunately, not every veteran’s service and sacrifice to the United States of America is fully appreciated while he or she is still in uniform,” IAVA CEO and Iraq War veteran Allison Jaslow said in a statement Thursday.

“The Purple Heart Veterans Education Act ensures that veterans who have suffered personal injury on behalf of our nation but have not been recognized for it before leaving the service will be able to turn that recognition into an investment in the education of their loved ones.”

More Purple Heart recipients

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have “significantly increased” the number of Purple Heart recipients as the Department of Defense added traumatic brain injuries as a recognized condition for the award, According to to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

It was only ok Act of 2017 that Purple Heart recipients could receive full post-9/11 GI Bill benefits regardless of length of service. Previously, recipients had to have 36 months of lively service.

According to CRS, the Department of Defense does not keep a record of the number of recipients, but by law maintains a publicly available list with the consent of the veteran or next of kin.

Military Historians and the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor estimate since 1932, approximately 1.8 million Purple Hearts have been awarded. Army Historical Foundation estimated as of 2016, 30,000 Purple Hearts have been awarded since 2001. CRS quoted this statistic.

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