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Senators Hassan and Cassidy Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Increase Access to Job Counseling Services for Surviving Spouses of Service Members

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), and Eric Schmitt (R-MO), introduced a bipartisan bill to increase access to job counseling services for spouses of members of the Armed Forces who died while serving in the military or of a service-connected disability – “surviving spouses” – through the Disabled Veterans Outreach Program, a program housed within the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service at the Department of Labor. The program provides every state with funding to hire specialists who provide individualized career counseling services to eligible veterans. The Gold Star and Surviving Spouse Career Services Act would expand the program so that surviving spouses can also use these services.

“After the terrible loss of a service member, we must do everything that we can to support their families,” said Senator Hassan. “This bipartisan bill is a commonsense way to help address the challenges that surviving spouses can face in their careers, and we must continue working to support our service members and their families.”

“We often thank the wife or husband of those serving overseas for their sacrifice,” said Dr. Cassidy. “If we really mean this, then a Gold Star spouse should be able to continue to access the services that they accessed when their husband or wife was alive.”

“We have an obligation to stand behind the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our country,” said Senator Kelly. “Making sure surviving spouses have the services they need to get a good-paying job to support their families after their loss is the least our government can do.” 

This bipartisan bill is part of Senator Hassan’s ongoing work to support service members, veterans, and their families. She introduced the Military Spouse Hiring Act to help boost hiring of military spouses. Senator Hassan helped develop and pass into law the PACT Act, which fundamentally reforms and improves how veterans exposed to toxic substances receive health care and benefits from the VA. Senator Hassan also helped pass into law comprehensive, bipartisan retirement security legislation, including provisions she authored with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), to help military families save for retirement. Additionally, Senator Hassan introduced and passed into law the bipartisan Reserve Component Parental Leave Parity Act, which expanded parental leave eligibility for Reserve and National Guard members to cover all new parents.

Full bill text and a one-pager can be found here and here