Tenney, Morelle push legislation to boost benefits for widows of Medal of Honor recipients

Posted 18 July 2023 at 3:05 pm

Press Release, Congresswoman Claudia Tenney 

WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (NY-24) recently cosponsored H.R. 841, the Sergeant Gary Beikirch Medal of Honor Act. This legislation, named after Rochester native Gary Beikirch, guarantees that the widows of Medal of Honor recipients are eligible for the complete benefits earned by their spouses.

This bill was introduced in the House by Congressman Joe Morelle (D-NY). Additional co-sponsors include Reps. Gwen Moore (D-WI) and Andre Carson (D-IN).

Currently, spouses of Medal of Honor (MOH) recipients face a limitation where they can only receive either the MOH pension or the Dependent Indemnity Compensation (DIC), but not both. This provision not only deprives military families of their rightful benefits but also adds to their financial burdens, adding to the already challenging emotional circumstances they face. This legislation seeks to amend the current law, enabling surviving spouses of MOH recipients to receive all the benefits they qualify for without being forced to choose between the two options.

“America’s Medal of Honor recipients, and their families, have put so much on the line to defend our great Nation and safeguard our freedoms,” said Congresswoman Claudia Tenney. “It is only right that we ensure their surviving families receive the benefits they have earned and fully deserve. I am inspired by the Beikirch family’s dedication to this issue and thank them for working to support surviving spouses nationwide. I am honored to join Congressman Morelle in this fight to get this legislation across the finish line and ensure our Medal of Honor spouses receive the benefits they deserve.”

“Medal of Honor recipients are among the most selfless, courageous, and heroic men and women who serve our armed forces,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “We have a duty to honor their profound service and sacrifice by ensuring their families receive the full benefits they deserve. I am deeply grateful to the Beikirch family for bringing this issue to my attention—it is my hope that this legislation will right a longstanding wrong and bring peace of mind to surviving spouses across the country. I look forward to working with Congresswoman Tenney and our colleagues to swiftly pass it into law.”

“Speaking personally from the perspective of my family we are so grateful for Congresswoman Claudia Tenney joining to work alongside Congressman Joe Morelle in making this a bipartisan effort in moving this bill along,” said Stephanie Beikirch, daughter of Sgt. Gary Beikirch. “This important piece of legislation needs to be passed not only because it is a benefit that my father more than earned but also because it will give us the peace of mind that my mother will be cared for in the way my father would have wanted. My mother’s care was his top priority in his last days and the entire Beikirch family thanks Congressman Morelle and Congresswoman Tenney for advocating to right this wrong not only for us but all future Medal of Honor recipients’ spouses to come. The families of our best and bravest should not have to choose between two benefits that were so courageously earned and my father would be honored to have his name on a piece of legislation that protects not only his , but also other Medal of Honor recipients families that are left behind.”

“I would like to thank Congressman Morelle and Congresswoman Tenney for their time and attention on this bill. The absolute last people in the country who should be struggling to keep their homes are the widows of our Medal of Honor recipients,” said Monroe County Veterans Services Director Nick Stefanovic. “Gary Beikirch was a mentor and father figure to me and his only concern before he died, probably the only thing he ever asked for in his entire adult life was that his family be cared for after he’s gone. That’s a small price to thank someone who has given everything for this country. I hope this bill moves quickly so that relief can be provided to these deserving widows.”