WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) along with Senators Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Joni Ernst (R- Iowa), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) introduced the Sergeant First Class Sean Cooley and Specialist Christopher Horton Congressional Gold Star Family Fellowship Program Act. The legislation would create a fellowship program in the Senate to offer an opportunity for Gold Star family members to participate in the system of government for which their loved one gave his or her life.
“Gold Star families are bonded by a common thread of loss, grief, and sacrifice,” said Senator Blackburn. “It is a privilege to introduce this legislation to honor the service of our fallen warriors. It is my hope that this fellowship helps members of Congress truly understand the costs of fighting for freedom.”
“America is the land of the free because the brave, and we are in debt to the family members whose loved ones sacrificed their lives in the defense of our freedom,” said Senator Cramer. “By creating a fellowship program in Congress, our legislation would give Gold Star family members a front row seat to history and a chance to learn more about our system of government and the ways they can bring about positive change for our nation.”
“The sacrifices of Gold Star families are incredibly understated, and they shoulder the price paid for the defense of our freedoms and the safety of Americans at home and abroad,” Senator Crapo said. “While being a Gold Star family carries a deeply profound honor, it is one no family wishes to have. Our resolution gives Gold Star family members the opportunity to participate in the system of government for which their loved one bravely sacrificed his or her life.”
“This legislation provides the Senate with an important opportunity to celebrate and embrace Gold Star Families, allowing them to participate in the system of government for which their loved one gave his or her life,” said Senator Hagerty. “Gold Star Families have sacrificed so much for our country, and I am pleased this resolution can play some small part in helping to support them and enable the Senate to benefit from their insights.”
“The families of fallen service members are intimately familiar with the challenges facing service members, veterans, and their families, and they provide an invaluable perspective on how we can best support military families," Senator Hassan said. “I am glad to work across the aisle on this effort to bring more Gold Star family members into Congressional offices so that they can help shape the work that we do."
“This bill is a beautiful way to honor not only our nation’s military, but our heroes who have given the ultimate sacrifice by engaging their families in a purposeful way in the democracy in which they gave their last full measure of devotion to protect,” said Jane Horton, Gold Star widow of Specialist Christopher Horton. “This bill gives the living legacies of our fallen heroes the chance to engage in the government and make a difference in whatever issue they’re passionate about – to turn their pain into purpose. It also gives them an avenue to honor their loved one’s sacrifice by working to better their country they served and died for. I often struggled with how I could thank my husband for all that he gave for me. How do we honor our fallen? We thank them by being Americans worth dying for. We thank them by bettering the country that they swore an oath to defend and protect. Our Gold Star families are ready to get to work and ready to honor our loved ones through service on Capitol Hill. What an honor it would be – and what a statement – for this bill finally make it through the United States Senate and for Gold Star families to have desks in rooms where decisions are being made.”
The fellowship program is funded through legislative branch appropriations, and the 12-month fellowship would be conducted in a Washington, D.C. or state office, at no cost to either the family member or the accepting Member of Congress.