Congressman Duncan Hunter (CA-50,) who represents Escondido in Washington, June 28 introduced the Fulfilling Obligations to Families of the Fallen Act, ensuring military families are aware when changes are made to their coverage involving Servicemembers Group Life Insurance (SGLI). Currently, military members are enrolled in SGLI automatically, however, there exists very weak notification requirements when changes are made to the policy or service members decline coverage.
Circumstances have arisen where the surviving family members of deceased active-duty personnel did not learn that the service member had declined insurance coverage until after their death. Consequently, military spouses expecting insurance benefits learn at the worst time possible that those benefits do not exist. Congressman Hunter’s legislation will improve the process by requiring active duty members and their spouses to submit a notarized document acknowledging any changes or declined coverage regarding their SGLI policy.
“This is a common-sense and necessary solution to ensure that our military families have all the resources they need during the most difficult of times,” said Congressman Hunter. “As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I have tried on several occasions to offer an amendment to the annual defense bill to fix this ongoing problem, only to receive pushback from the House Veterans Affairs Committee because of a political turf battle. It is for this reason that I am introducing a stand-alone bill with the hope we can actually have some movement on correcting this problem which has gone on for too long.”
While SGLI is technically a defense program, its oversight is carried out by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the House Veterans Affairs Committee has been insistent that any changes regarding VA policy go through their jurisdiction. To date, the House Veterans Affairs Committee has taken no action on the issue.
“I am introducing this legislation with the expectation that it will be referred to the House Veterans Affairs Committee and I am calling on them to expedite their consideration and move quickly. Personally, I don’t care how it’s done, I just want to see it done. Our military families of fallen service members deserve better than politicians bickering over who should actually fix a problem which causes great harm.”