The Senate version of the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act includes a provision that would protect Gold Star spouses and catastrophically injured service members from certain penalties related to car and residential leases.
Introduced earlier this year as stand-alone legislation, the Gold Star Spouses and Spouses of Injured Service members Leasing Relief Expansion Act was included in the NDAA when it was approved by the Senate last year.
The original language was co-sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I.
If ultimately approved by the House and signed into law, the legislation would expand existing financial protections afforded by the Service Members Civil Relief Act.
The spouse of a service member who died while in military service or while performing full-time National Guard duty, active Guard and Reserve duty or inactive-duty training would be allowed to terminate a motor vehicle lease during a one-year period beginning on the date of death of the service member.
The spouse of a service member who sustained a catastrophic injury or illness while in military service or while performing full-time National Guard duty, active Guard and Reserve duty or inactive-duty training would be allowed to terminate a residential lease and a motor vehicle lease during the one-year period beginning on the date of the injury or illness.
Currently, the family of a deceased or catastrophically injured service member may be forced to pay off the remainder of residential and car leases or face a penalty for breaking the lease.
"Military spouses play a vital role in supporting our service members and often handle signing a lease for a home or automobile when service members receive orders to relocate,” said Tillis, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee. “I am proud this bipartisan legislation that will provide military spouses with relief and financial protections to help them during an incredibly difficult time for their family was included in the NDAA."