ICYMI: Hartzler Fixes Life Insurance for Deployed, Gold Star Mothers
HARRISONVILLE, MO - Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-04) is pleased to announce this Gold Star Mother's Day that families of service members killed in the line of duty will now receive full life insurance benefits due to a provision she authored and helped pass in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The provision was signed into law by the President in August.
“Previously, service members had to fill out paperwork authorizing family members to receive the full $400,000 entitled to them and sometimes they mistakenly checked the wrong box and accidentally lowered the amount of benefit due their loved one. This resulted in unnecessary financial shortfalls to the families of fallen soldiers, in addition to enduring the heartbreak of losing a loved one.
“I learned about the shortfall in procedure after one of my constituents lost her son in Afghanistan. I received the news that he died shortly after I was elected for the first time, and it was a call I will never forget,” Hartzler said. “Young Christopher Stark had been killed in action.
“In the years following that phone call,” Hartzler continued, “I got to know Christopher’s brave mom, Teresa Stark. I learned that when Christopher deployed to Afghanistan, he opted for what he believed was an additional $200,000 of life insurance, but mistakenly opted out of the full $400,000 of coverage that should have been available to him.
“Sadly, we have learned this was not the only case of this mistake being made and families being shortchanged the benefits they are due. As a result, Congresswoman Hartzler authored a provision in the 2019 NDAA to make sure service members who are deployed to a combat zone automatically receive the full life insurance coverage benefit of $400,000.
“Service members are faced with so many details when duty calls them to the frontlines,” Hartzler said. “My provision will remove one more mental burden from them when they deploy, and ensure that their families receive what they are due should their loved one not come home.”
"The passing of this law gives me a peace for future military families as they send their loved ones off to war,” Christopher’s mom, Teresa Stark said. “It helps to know that Congress and President of the United States hold their service in high regard and have ensured these families receive the highest level of life insurance due to them, should their loved one make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Vicky Hartzler has worked tenaciously to see this goal become a reality and on behalf of all of our military service members, their families, and myself, I would like to say, ‘Thank You for all your hard work, Representative Hartzler! Well done!’”
Christopher Stark was a 2007 graduate of Monett High School where he participated in JROTC, football, basketball and baseball. He and his mother moved to Nevada, MO, and he enlisted in the United States Army in August 2008 and served as part of the 705th Unit with the 63rd Explosive Ordinance Disposal Battalion 20th Support Command until he was killed by an IED (bomb) in COP Tangi, Afghanistan on February 28, 2011.
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