Dear Representatives Ruiz and Fitzpatrick,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to advise you of our support for H.R. 483, the “Heroes Lesley Zerebny and Gilbert Vega First Responders Survivors Support Act.”
The legislation you have introduced will increase the disability and death benefits administered by the Public Safety Officer Benefits (PSOB) program to $500,000. The bill will also increase the Public Safety Officers Education Assistance (PSOEA) benefit for the spouses and children of fallen officers to $2,000 for a full-time student, $1,600 for a three-quarter-time student and $1,160 for a half-time student.
The PSOB and PSOEA programs provide peace of mind for the men and women who serve our communities as law enforcement and other public safety officers. Because of these programs, they can perform their duties with the confidence that their families will be taken care of in the event they are called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice.
However, the benefits have not kept up with the times and many survivor families, especially those with children, have found themselves facing financial hardships in addition to the pain of losing their loved one. This bill cannot alleviate the grief of such a devastating loss, but it can relieve any financial pressure the family may encounter.
On behalf of the more than 356,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, we want to thank you for supporting our public safety officers. If I can be of any help, please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco in our Washington office.