September 28, 2015

Wyden and Brown “Gold Star Fathers” Act Passes House

Washington, DC – A bill sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, that would extend the same federal hiring preference to fathers that is available to mothers of servicemembers killed or permanently and totally disabled in action has cleared the House.

The Gold Star Fathers Act, which passed the Senate in May, takes its name from an unofficial symbol of parents whose children are killed in action. Such parents are referred to as “Gold Star parents” because they traditionally display a Gold Star flag as a symbol of their loss and sacrifice. 

The federal government has long recognized the sacrifice of Gold Star families by granting unmarried and separated Gold Star mothers – and unmarried and separated mothers of totally and permanently disabled veterans – a 10-point hiring preference when they apply for federal jobs.

The Gold Star Fathers Act would make this hiring preference gender neutral, extending it to unmarried or separated fathers of servicemembers killed in action or totally and permanently disabled. 

“Families whose sons and daughters have been killed or disabled in combat have suffered grievously," Wyden said. "While no action can remove that grief, this bill provides long-overdue recognition to these fathers whose sons and daughters have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

“When a servicemember is killed in action or permanently and totally disabled, the government should do its part to be there for grieving parents—no matter if they’re fathers or mothers,” Brown said. “By extending federal preference eligibility to fathers, we are righting a wrong that should have been corrected many years ago. This law will ensure that we honor the sacrifice of Gold Star fathers.”

The bill now goes to President Obama.