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Public Statements

Servicemember Family Protection Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. BROWN of Florida. Mr. Speaker and Members of the House, I rise today as the House of Representatives returns from Memorial Day events around the country to honor our Nation's servicemen and their families.

On behalf of a grateful Nation, I want to thank our servicemen and -women for their sacrifices in defense of the freedoms we all hold so dear. As President Obama has said, it is important to follow these words with deeds, that we must do what we can for the veterans of past, present, and future conflicts.

I am pleased to have been a Member of Congress in 2009 when a Democratic President, Democratic House, and Democratic Senate passed the largest budget in the history of the Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition, we made sure that the VA was not subject to the whims of government shutdown, and the subject of the health care budget of the VA to advanced appropriations, removing the worry for our veterans that their health care would be available.

I am looking forward to the ceremony to be held at the end of June to honor the Montford Point Marines. It is necessary to honor all of America's war heroes' service and sacrifice, and in particular those who served at Montford Point, the marines who were the last group to integrate who are about to be officially recognized as a rich legacy of our Marine Corps. They answered our Nation's call at a time when our society was deeply divided along racial lines.

As our servicemembers continue to deploy, we need to ensure that we're doing everything we need to do to help the families. One item that has often been overlooked is the care of our servicemembers' children when they are deployed. H.R. 4201 would amend the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act to help protect the child custody rights of servicemembers being deployed overseas. This bill would protect a servicemember's custodial rights by requiring that temporary custody orders based solely on the servicemember's deployment will be exactly that--temporary--and that when the servicemember returns, the custody order in effect before deployment will be reinstated.

This bill provides important safeguards and peace of mind to our servicemembers facing overseas deployment and puts the interests of children first. This bill was passed by the House last Congress, and we should do it again.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


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