WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today announced Senate passage of Gold Star Fathers Act of 2015, legislation he reintroduced alongside U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) in January. The legislation would expand federal hiring preferences to include fathers of servicemembers who have been killed in action or permanently and totally disabled. The bill passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last week and was unanimously cleared by the full Senate yesterday. Last year, the Gold Star Fathers Act of 2014 also passed the Senate by unanimous consent but House inaction prevented the bill from being signed into law.
“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. “The Senate has once again passed this importance piece of legislation and now the House must take action. It’s time we honor the sacrifice of Gold Star fathers by passing this legislation and ensuring that fathers receive the same preferences as mothers and spouses.”
Brown’s cosponsorship of 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.
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 of 2015 amends federal code to provide fathers of deceased or permanently and totally disabled servicemembers with the same hiring preferences as mothers, widows, and widowers.
In July 2014, Brown joined Warner and Jon Reiss, the Executive Director of the Cuyahoga County Veterans Service Commission at the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Cleveland to call attention to the legislation and urge Congress to move swiftly toward passing the bill.