Gold Star Wives of America
BlueDot was founded on the philosophy to leave the world better than how we found it, so to begin the company history with an organization like Gold Star Wives of America (GSW) is nothing short of serendipity. For 75 years, the organization has existed to “preserve and enhance” the lives of surviving spouses and children of our United States military while also fighting for their right to benefits, honoring their loss, and honoring the memory of their service members who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Even after decades of work for military spouses and their surviving children, the leadership of GSW regularly ran into roadblocks while seeking federal recognition for their losses. In 2015, GSW was looking to improve and protect existing survivor benefits as well as eliminate benefit inequities like tax penalties and a lack of compensation to commensurate with inflation. In order for the members to earn the benefits that saw to the wellness of their suffering families, the organization required a lot of assistance in getting their bill proposals to senators and representatives. They needed to do more than just make a phone call or send off an email, they needed to get the organization’s foot in the door by way of familiarity in the legislative process to see true progress. Such a procedure truly required an understanding not only of policy, but of the culture and relationship building required to succeed on Capitol Hill.
We began our consultation with GSW in 2016 to help them develop a legislative and communications strategy focused on stakeholder groups and legislators to get their priorities cemented in legislation.
In 2018, BlueDot began preparing the GSW leadership for a feature on the Hill in an effort to pass new legislation that would do four things: remove penalty clauses for young widows who remarry, increase the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), repeal the requirement of the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)/DIC benefit offset, and modify a line of their federal charter. The previous three years had been the preparation to this point and it was now our goal to get GSW an audience with a senator who could successfully drive the legislature to the Senate for review and, ultimately, for a vote to pass.
Through countless hours of talking with Members of Congress, making phone calls, writing letters, and engaging with stakeholders, we were successful in eliminating the “Widow’s Tax”/SBP DIC Offset in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Over the next 10 years, this benefit will bring over $5 billion dollars to our surviving spouses and their families.
3. Results/Next Steps
We couldn’t be more proud of the strides we were honored to make alongside the Gold Star Wives of America and their leadership. We are confident that the work we have done with GSW is impactful, but it is only the beginning. Each generation has their challenges they must face – GSW has grown with three generations of Americans, and each set of challenges by each generation are compounded in which military commitment and sacrifice are factored. GSW members are having to adapt to the ways in which our modern society approaches family life, military commitment, and financial security while also continuously seeking to not be left behind in the wake of their loss.
By taking their valid concerns and feedback to the Senate, BlueDot substantiated the selfless work done for and by the spouses and children of Gold Star Wives of America, to fight for those left behind when the ultimate sacrifice was made by our country’s bravest. We will continue that fight and commitment.