The Widow Tax – What Can YOU Do?

I blogged about Clay’s first deployment with the 3-71 Cav at The Sour Patch Kid Experiment over 5 years ago. It was a tough deployment and his unit experienced a lot of casualties over the 16 month timeframe. The first incident involved a helicopter crash that claimed the lives of 10 service members, four of them being from our unit. On board were 3-71 Cav.’s Battalion Commander – Lt. Col. Joseph Fenty, Spc. Justin O’Donohoe, Spc. David Timmons, and Pfc. Brian Moquin (read more here).

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Clay greatly admired Lt. Col. Fenty and couldn’t have asked for a better commander for his first Army assignment. And when Clay was a company commander during his second deployment, the impact Lt. Col. Fenty was seen in his leadership skills. By all accounts of those who knew him – Joseph Fenty was a great man.

His widow, Kristen Fenty, is currently fighting for survivor benefits that our government is reluctant to disperse to the families of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. In basic terms – the survivors benefit can include the service member’s retirement money or their life insurance – not both.

A couple of days ago, The Huffington Post featured an article on the subject, The Disgrace of War Widows Fighting for Benefits and Kristen is quoted, “I moved 16 times in 19 years,” she said. “I’m a professional with two master’s degrees. I’m not the typical, but I had to bottom-rung my employment every time I moved. Nobody’s earning a retirement or getting vested in a plan when you’re moving around that often. So your spouse’s retirement is your retirement.”

There is outrage when veterans are mistreated and allowed to fall through the cracks of society. But what about the survivors of a service member killed in action? Maybe it is easier for the military community to pretend that they’re not there – after all, they remind us of our worst nightmare. Gold Star Wives deserve more. And the children of fallen service members deserve more. In my opinion, the most haunting line of the article was something Kristen said, “We’re a very easy group to put to the side. We aren’t the constituents of the military advocacy groups.” 

What Can You Do?

Visit Two Widows Walking Tall – the blog authored by Siobhan Esposito and Kristen Fenty for more insight to their stories and the disgusting and embarrassing practice of ‘The Widows Tax’.

Contact your local Congressional Representative and encourage their support of pending legislation  S. 260 in the Senate and H.R. 178 in the House. This legislation “would eliminate the Widow’s Tax and other unfair financial hardships on surviving military families (Huffington Post article).”

Share this information on your blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Please. Don’t let this continue any longer!

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For more information about the possible change in military retirement, check out Jill’s blog post, The Invisible Military Spouse, at Keep Calm and Have a Cosmo.

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Me and Lt. Col. Fenty pinning 1st Lt. on Clay

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3 thoughts on “The Widow Tax – What Can YOU Do?

  1. Keep Calm and Have a Cosmo May 2, 2012 / 11:12 am

    I have been thinking about this Huff Post article since you posted it on FB. I want to write about it, but don’t even know where to start. It.is.just.disgusting. I’m worried I would say things I would regret. ha!

  2. Siobhan Esposito May 2, 2012 / 7:14 pm

    Karen, thank you for helping to bring attention to this injustice.

  3. GARNER May 26, 2016 / 5:56 pm

    COL. Fenty was an excellent unit commander, his orders always spoken calm and with purpose. He cared about our unit and loved his family. I believe had he survived that terrible night in the mountains of Kunar and saw that the spouses of his fallen soldiers had to choose between an insurance check or a modest pension he too would see the major problems spouses would face. Let’s not forget those spouses being forced to move off base, where their children likely grew up. Then the car payment, medical bills, taxes. He would see that dying a costs money and that insurance money vanishes fast. That his soldiers families live on but their family torn apart, quality of life diminished if they have no place to live and he would see that something has to be done to change it. He would be that person to start the change if he were here.
    These articles, in a way speak for all the husbands and wives lost to war. Keep them coming.

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