Tribute to Gold Star Families: Bipartisan Support for the Love Lives On Act of 2023

Tribute to Gold Star Families: Bipartisan Support for the Love Lives On Act of 2023

With the sunset of the “widow tax” earlier this year, Gold Star families are looking to end another remnant of military family life: a remarriage penalty.

The Love Lives On Act of 2023, introduced in the House of Representatives this week by Congressmen Dean Phillips, D-Minn., and Richard Hudson, RN.C., would allow Gold Star spouses to keep their survivor benefits after their remarriage.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, surviving spouses only remarry in 5% of cases, citing financial concerns about the loss of benefits.

A surviving spouse must wait until age 55 to remarry and retain survivor benefits such as TRICARE or the Fry Scholarship.


Congressman Dean Phillips’ biological father, US Army Capt. Artie Pfefer, left, next to a current photo of the congressman. Pfefer died during the congressman’s childhood during the Vietnam War. Phillips cites the loss of his father and subsequent remarriage of his mother as part of his reasoning for co-sponsoring 2023’s Love Lives On Act. (Congressman Dean Phillips)

Proponents of the Love Lives Act say the current law sets back both the personal and professional goals of Gold Star spouses, many of whom rely on benefits to support their children after the loss of their service member.

A House of Representatives co-sponsor, Congressman Dean Phillips, D-Minn., is a Gold Star son whose mother remarried after his father, U.S. Army Capt. Artie Pfefer, died during Vietnam War.

“The spouses of those who die in the service of our nation make unimaginable sacrifices and in return deserve endless respect and support,” Phillips said. “The Love Lives On Act is part of my mission to ensure that military families have access to all the benefits that are their due.”


The bill was also co-sponsored in the House this week by Republican North Carolina congressman who represents Fort Bragg, Richard Hudson.

“We need to support surviving spouses who choose to remarry and eliminate the fear of losing benefits paid for by the sacrifice of their late spouses,” Hudson said.

In the Senate, the bill was co-sponsored by Senators Jerry Moran, R-Kan., and Raphael Warnock, D-Ga.

Senator Moran Veterans Affairs

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., left, and Chairman Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., right, speak to a Senate veterans hearing on the president’s proposed budget request for fiscal years 2024 and 2025. Department of Veterans Affairs requests on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

“I have heard of surviving spouses in my state who wish to remarry and give their children a father or mother figure, but feel they must postpone the marriage because the financial risk of losing their benefits is too great,” said Moran, the senior senator for the Veterans Affairs Committee, told Fox News Digital.

Warnock, who also co-sponsored the bill in April, noted the timing of the bill’s introduction.

“As our nation comes together to commemorate Memorial Day, it’s important for all of us to remember that it’s not just the military who show up,” Warnock said. “Their families are also making huge sacrifices for our country.”

“As our nation comes together to commemorate Memorial Day, it’s important for all of us to remember that it’s not just service members who show up. Their families are also making tremendous sacrifices for our country.”

— Senator Raphael Warnock

Current VA law states that a Gold Star spouse is no longer the responsibility of the military once they remarry, which includes health care. A Department of Defense spokesperson confirmed in an email with Fox News Digital that “TRICARE benefits for [a] surviving spouse ends when he remarries”.

Amy Dozier is a surviving wife of SFC Jonathan Dozier, and the Love Lives On Act would benefit her if enacted.

“Remarrying would mean losing the benefits I contributed and earned as Jonathan’s wife and now a widow,” Dozier said.

“The downstream effect, especially in this economy, would be detrimental not only to our financial stability, but, more importantly, to growth. [my daughter and I] continue to have on this journey.”

“Choosing to remarry shouldn’t impact a surviving spouse’s ability to pay their bills. They shouldn’t have to choose between another chance at love and financial security,” TAPS added, or Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, in an email to Fox News Digital.


The Love Lives On Act of 2023 awaits a vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate before Memorial Day weekend and the annual recess of Congress.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *