Rehberg, House Colleagues Pass Benefits for Military Sole Survivors
Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, this week led House colleagues in passage of legislation which would provide veteran's benefits to armed service members who voluntarily separated from the military due to sole survivor status.
"It's truly honorable when several members of the same family are willing to go fight for our country abroad," said Rehberg, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. "These brave men and women shouldn't be punished for having to return home in the unfortunate case where they're the sole survivor of their family. This bill would give these troops the same benefits as everyone else."
Under current law, members of the military who involuntarily separate from the military are provided a variety of Federal benefits. However, individuals who voluntarily separate from the military under sole survivorship do not qualify for these benefits. Sole survivors are defined as a member of the Armed Forces who is the only surviving child in a family in which the mother or father, or one or more siblings died or were severely injured while in service through no fault of their own.
The Hubbard Act of 2008 ensures that if a member of the Armed Services receives a sole survivorship discharge they will not have to repay any unearned portion of any bonus, incentive pay, or similar benefits. Additionally, the legislation provides these veterans' with access to health care as well as ensures they have access to any other benefits, including housing loan benefits and education and training benefits.
The Hubbard Act is named for Jason Hubbard, an Army veteran of the Iraq War and a sole survivor who lost his two brothers in Iraq. Jason and Nathan Hubbard joined the Army six months after their brother Jared was killed by a road side bomb in Iraq in November 2004. Last August, Nathan Hubbard was killed in a helicopter crash south of Kirkuk, Iraq, while Jason Hubbard looked on from an accompanying aircraft. Jason Hubbard voluntarily separated from the military under the sole survivorship policy, but was denied veteran's benefits and was asked to repay his enlistment bonus. The Secretary of the Army intervened on his behalf to ensure he had access to his health care and did not have to repay his bonus.