During World War I, Americans hung blue stars in their windows for every family member serving in the military. If a loved one died in service, a gold star replaced the blue one. Since then, the Gold Star has symbolized the spouses and family members of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Every year on April 5, America salutes these spouses on Gold Star Spouses Day.
If you are a survivor of a fallen Veteran or service member, you are not forgotten. VA provides a variety of benefits that can help you navigate life after your loss.
- Education and training. Survivor’s and Dependents’ Education Assistance Program may be able to help you pay for school or job training through a GI Bill program.
- VA home loan guaranty. You can apply for a Certificate of Eligibility to help you buy, build, repair or refinance a home. You may also qualify for a VA-backed home loan if you are having trouble paying your mortgage.
- Life insurance. You may be able to convert a spousal Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance policy to an individual policy within 120 days from the date of your loved one’s passing.
- Pre-need eligibility determination for burial in a VA national cemetery. VA can help you plan ahead to make the burial process easier for your family at that time.
- Burial benefits and memorial items. You can apply for help paying burial costs, request memorial items or learn about grief counseling and transition support.
- Survivors Pension. Survivors Pension offers monthly payments to qualified surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children of wartime Veterans who meet certain income and net worth limits set by Congress.
- Compensation for surviving spouses and dependents. You may qualify for a tax-free monetary benefit called VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC). Visit https://www.va.gov/disability/dependency-indemnity-compensation/ to learn more about the documents you will need to apply for VA DIC.
There are some specific eligibility requirements for each of these benefits, so be sure to check out the full list of family member benefits to find out which benefits you may qualify for and how to access them.
VA recognizes the sacrifices Gold Star spouses have made for their country. To honor the legacy of your loved one, VA continues to ensure that you and your family receive the benefits and services you have earned.
Meghan Badame is a communications and marketing specialist with VBA’s Office of Strategic Engagement