WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Obama signed into law legislation introduced by U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) to expand federal hiring preferences to include fathers of servicemembers who have been killed in action, or permanently and totally disabled. The Gold Star Fathers Act of 2015, which passed the U.S. 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.
“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.”
“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.”
Currently, Gold Star mothers and unmarried widows and widowers receive a ten point hiring preference for federal employment, similar to the federal hiring preferences given to veterans. The Gold Star Fathers Act amends federal code to provide fathers of deceased or permanently and totally disabled servicemembers with the same hiring preferences as mothers, widows, and widowers.
Brown introduced the Gold Star Fathers Act of 2014 last Congress. The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent in September 2014 but House inaction killed the bill. Brown’s involvement in this legislation is the result of efforts by Canton resident and Gold Star father, Scott Warner. Warner’s son, Heath, was killed in action in Iraq in November 2006 during his deployment as a U.S. Marine. Following the death of his son, Warner became involved with a local Gold Star family support group. At a community meeting in Canton, Warner presented his experiences to a representative from Brown’s office.