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senate Bill S. 136

Should the Fathers of Deceased Veterans Receive the Same Benefits as Mothers?

Argument in favor

Current law is sexist. Having your child killed or seriously disabled in combat is painful, regardless of your gender. All parents whose children die in service to our country deserve our honor.

AndrewGVN's Opinion
Both parents should receive the same benefits.
Like (14)
BTSundra's Opinion
Of course, even men should have benefits, though some liberals would argue otherwise.
Like (12)

Argument opposed

Changing the law is sexist. Women already face huge obstacles in finding employment and earning the same wage as men. To deny them a benefit for the child that they raised is disgusting.

InformedCitizen's Opinion
Fathers should be able to work and put a roof over their own head. They should not receive benefits for their deceased sons.
Alis's Opinion
I am no insensitive to the suffering of BOTH parents who lose a child in combat or have to care for a seriously disabled child wounded in war. Nevertheless, women face enormous obstacles already and are usually the primary caregivers. I fear (and am quite certain given our history) that changing this will devolve into women being pushed aside when they need assistance the most. Sorry, gentlemen, you get the advantage in every field you enter, this should not be one of them. Suck it up & cope!

What is Senate Bill S. 136?

This bill seeks to honor fathers whose children die or are severely disabled while in service to the United States.

Under current law, the widow or widower of a serviceperson who is either permanently disabled or killed in combat can claim a preferred status when applying for a job in the civil service. This bill would do away with the term “mother” in the law and, instead, replace it with the gender-neutral “parent.” As is the case with mothers under current law, said parent would also have to be either unmarried or legally separated from their spouse, or married to a disabled person.


The families of veterans that are disabled or killed in action, companies that would hire them, and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 136

The CBO estimates that this bill would not affect the federal budget.

More Information

In-Depth: Service people get preference for government jobs, providing that they were honorably or generally discharged, didn’t rise above the rank of major and weren’t National Guard or reserve. However, some veterans can get a further preference if they meet a certain set of conditions.

Veterans who served during a war (yes, “police actions” count) and during the first three years after the Treaty of San Francisco was signed get five points added to any passing exam score that they take to join the civil service. Veterans who are receiving disability or who have received a Purple Heart, as well as the unmarried spouses and mothers of deceased or disabled veterans receive an additional ten points. If this bill passes, so too would fathers.

Of Note: According to local news sources, this bill is in Congress largely thanks to the efforts of one man in Canton, Ohio: Scott Warner. Warner’s son, Heath was killed in Iraq in 2006 while serving with the Marine Corps. In the wake of Heath’s death, Warner became active in the fight for getting fathers preference. Warner’s senator, Sherrod Brown (D-OH), is a co-sponsor of this bill. This was not Warner’s first time making headlines. He was also involved in activism around Arlington Cemetery’s burial of veterans in the wrong plots.

The “gold star” in this bill’s name refers to a one hundred-year-old tradition of families of military personnel hanging service flags in their window to show that their child was deployed. Traditionally, these flags were a blue star on a white field with a red border. If the serviceperson died in combat, the families hung up a gold star.

The service flag tradition was started in the Warners’ home state, Ohio.


Summary by James Helmsworth
(Photo Credit: Flickr user NYCMarines)


Gold Star Fathers Act of 2015

Official Title

A bill to amend chapter 21 of title 5, United States Code, to provide that fathers of certain permanently disabled or deceased veterans shall be included with mothers of such veterans as preference eligibles for treatment in the civil service.

bill Progress

  • EnactedOctober 7th, 2015
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The house Passed September 28th, 2015
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Oversight and Reform
  • The senate Passed May 11th, 2015
    Passed by Voice Vote
      senate Committees
      Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
    IntroducedJanuary 8th, 2015

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