BERRY Cosponsors Equal TreatMENT for widows of Wartime veterans Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Congressman Berry (AR-01) cosponsored a bill introduced yesterday that would provide widows of veterans who served in the military during times of war an increase in their benefits.  The bill H.R. 2673, the Equal Treatment for Widows of Wartime Veterans Act, would correct a discrepancy in the pension benefits paid to widows of wartime veterans.

“The sacrifices our military families make while their spouses serve our country are enormous,” said Berry. “If the worst case scenario happens, we must make sure the surviving spouses obtain all the benefits they are entitled to receive so they are able to support their families.”

As of December 2008, a wartime veteran with a spouse receives a maximum benefit of $15,493 in pension benefits. If the spouse of the veteran passes away, the veteran’s pension is reduced to $11,830 a year, the same amount received by a veteran without a spouse.  However, if the veteran dies, the surviving spouse’s pension is reduced to $7,933 a year.  This arbitrary reduction unfairly penalizes the surviving spouse of a veteran.  The bill will increase the surviving spouse benefit to the same amount as the wartime veteran benefit.

“It is incomprehensible that some spouses, who support their husbands during the war, could become neglected by the same nation their spouses gave their lives to defend. This bill will not provide all the resources the spouses will need as they begin to rebuild their lives.  However, it is a starting point to address as a country how to properly care for widows who have given so much to our nation,” he said.

Advocating for increased benefits for our servicemen and women in uniform and their families has been a top priority for Congressman Berry since he began representing Arkansas’s First Congressional District in 1997.  In 2002, Congressman Berry introduced a similar bill to increase surviving spouse benefits and has continued to work to champion legislation that will improve the quality of life for all soldiers and families who bravely served our country.