FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 17, 2008
Schumer Reveals: "Sole Surviving" Soldiers, Who Come Home After Losing Parents Or Siblings, Shockingly Stripped Of Bonuses, Health Care, Gi Bill Benefits If They Leave Duty Prematurely
Troops Classified As "Sole Survivor" Soldiers If Parent or All Other Brothers and Sisters are Lost At War - Must Leave Active Duty Early to Prevent Families from Being Wiped Out
New Reports Reveal, Despite Requirement to Leave Active Duty Early, DoD Callously Demanding Return of Signing Bonus, Limiting Health Care Coverage and Benefits under the G.I. Bill
With More than 50 Sole Survivors Nationwide and Some in NY, Schumer Unveils Bi-Partisan Hubbard Act of 2008 to Retain All Benefits Earned from Serving Overseas
With reports that “sole survivor” service members returning from service overseas are being asked to return signing bonuses and forego health and GI Bill benefits, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced a new bill that would ensure that sole survivors would be entitled to retain all of the benefits of service that they earned by serving in the armed forces, even if they voluntarily separate from their service. The Hubbard Act of 2008, named for Jason Hubbard, an
“It is absurd and unjust to deny full benefits to front-line soldiers who choose the humane option of honorary discharge after losing siblings who are also in active combat," Schumer said. “These brave men and women have sacrificed more for their country than could ever be expected of them, and our country owes them the utmost when they return.”
Six months after the death of twenty-two year old Jared Hubbard in a roadside bombing in
Under the Department of Defense’s “sole survivor” policy, service members who lose all their siblings in war are not allowed to return to a combat environment. The policy – portrayed in the film, “Saving Private Ryan” and rooted in the loss of the five Sullivan brothers in WWII – is intended to protect American families from losing all their children to war.
But recent experience with the conflicts in
Jason’s case highlights the gaping hole that leaves sole survivor service members vulnerable to losing much-needed benefits following devastating losses in their family. Since September 11, 2001, there have been fifty-one recognized sole survivors, who are the only remaining son or daughter in a family where the father or mother, or one or more sons or daughters, served in the Armed Forces, and were either killed, captured, missing in action, or were permanently and fully disabled.
"The bottom line is the the DOD must change this damaging policy. We owe these heroes a deep debt -- and denying or truncating any benefits to those who have not only put their lives on the line for America, but also lost siblings in combat, defies any sense of fairness," said Schumer
To address this glaring lapse, Schumer today announced the introduction of the Hubbard Act of 2008 to ensure that service members who separate from the Armed Services under the “sole survivor” policy, whether or not their service obligation is completed, receive all the benefits they deserve for their service in Afghanistan or Iraq. Specifically, the bill:
To guarantee that the bill protects those fifty-one service members who have already lost family members, the first five provisions listed are retroactive to September 11, 2001.
# # #