Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A New Fight for Justice for Military Families

Hello, I am Siobhan Esposito, and I am the widow of Army Captain Phillip Esposito, who was murdered by a soldier under his command in Iraq in 2005.

Today, as I work to rebuild my life since Phillip’s murder, I have found myself thrust into roles that I never envisioned, but that are nevertheless necessary to ensure proper justice—for myself as a widow and mother to our daughter, for the other victims of violent crime who deserve our support, and for other survivors of military members who died in battle, or from service-related causes.

Tomorrow, as the newly-minted Vice President of the Potomac Chapter of the Gold Star Wives of America, I will join with my good friend and fellow Army widow Kristen Fenty to go to Capitol Hill and help fight for passage of two important bills before Congress: H.R.178 and S.260.

These two bills fix a broken and unfair government policy in force today that requires that the surviving spouses of our military heroes to forfeit their earned Survival Benefit Pension annuity by the dollar amount of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, a death benefit provided by the Veterans Affairs Department.

They also help to fix the problems caused when a surviving spouse elects to place their Survival Benefit Pension annuity in their children’s name and the government then turns around and taxes that annuity at the punishing Alternative Minimum Tax rate of 26%.

When I learned that Kristen’s five-year-old daughter Lauren is made to pay the 26% Alternative Minimum Tax on the benefits that she receives, I was both stunned and appalled. Lauren’s father Army Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Fenty died in Afghanistan a mere 28 days after Lauren was born. Lauren never even had the opportunity to be held by Joe—a man who deeply loved and provided for his family, but who can do so no more as he died in the service of our nation.

And yet this how our nation stands behind a beautiful little girl like Lauren, and helps her to have the opportunities that she deserves in the face of her father’s tragic death? This is how America shows its thanks to her and her family in the face of their most painful loss?

Fortunately, Congress now has the opportunity to fix this problem—once and for all. Two bills, H.R.178 and S.260, eliminate the unfair offset and punitive tax burdens levied upon the families of our fallen heroes.

But we need your help to make things right. These bills are stuck in committee, and they will never pass unless the people of our nation who stand with the families of our fallen heroes speak out.

Please, help us and other military families to pass these bills and fix this injustice. Write a letter to your representative today and let them know that you expect them to affirm your values and to support our military families. This website sponsored by the Military Officers Association of America makes it easy.

I thank you for your support.


1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed meeting you both in Washington, D.C. for Color the Hill Gold. Your flyer is very powerful !! Thank you for all you are doing to bring awareness about Gold Star Wives and these important legislative issues that affect all military widows and widowers.

    Janet Snyder
    President, Las Vegas Valley Chapter
    Gold Star Wives of America, Inc.