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house Bill H.R. 4511

Should the Families of Killed or Missing Troops Participate in the Veterans History Project?

Argument in favor

The Veterans History Project would only be enhanced by allowing the immediate family members of military members who are killed or missing in action to tell stories about their loved ones.

Lycos's Opinion
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09/07/2016
The argument against this holds the idea that it is only soldiers effected by war. As we all know this is simply not the case. One man's involvement in the military has a profound effect on his family and that should be portrayed by the VHP.
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B.R.'s Opinion
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09/06/2016
Should they want to participate, I believe that they should; a value added for sure.
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Stephone's Opinion
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09/06/2016
These people are brothers and sisters and sons and daughters and fathers and mothers before they are soldiers. Nobody can know a person and who they really are as well as that persons family. So for the sake of remembering someone as a person and not just simply a soldier it could only be fitting.
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Argument opposed

It would be better for the Veterans History Project to continue to only use interviews with living veterans who talk about their fallen or missing comrades.

MICKEY's Opinion
···
09/06/2016
Arbitrarily creating laws to attempt to fix every special scenario that arises is the wrong approach to legislation and contributes nothing but to the giant ball of red tape strangling the effectiveness of government at all levels.
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09/06/2016
No. Absolutely not. The only people who should be talking about their fallen or missing comrades are the Veterans themselves. While I can certainly understand and appreciate wanting to have the immediate family members who are killed or missing in action to tell the stories about their loved ones, I can give you one unequitable reason why they should not. Because they weren’t there. There is a very profound difference between telling a story and sharing what actually happened. I grew up listening to my Father tell me stories of when he was in Vietnam. The battles he fought in, the friends he lost, the lives he took. Even as a Combat Veteran myself, do I feel I have the right to recount his stories? No. Because I wasn’t there. He was. Being a Veteran, especially being a Combat Veteran, the experiences you endure in war are very personal experiences. They are intimate. They are precious. They are your own. I could share with you my experiences of what I did and seen in Afghanistan, but would you be able to retell what I just told you? No you wouldn’t. Because you wouldn’t know the feeling of what it is like to have bullets crack over your head, or what it is like to see your Soldier’s bleed out in front of you, or what it is like at the end of the day when you sit and stare up at the sky so physically and emotionally drained and wonder how, just how, you are going to make it through another day. I certainly, do not and in any regard, mean to take away from anything the family of a Veteran might have to share. Everyone’s experience in war is different from the person next to them. How else can you explain why, after we got hit for the first time, some guys were able to sleep that night whereas I didn’t sleep for three days after the attack? Or why some guys were able to go home and reintegrate with their families and their lives just fine, whereas my wife divorced me and I was diagnosed with an 80% disability rating with PTSD? Everyone handles their experiences differently, which is why only those who were there should be able to participate in this project. It’s like my Father told me, and it’s like I tell people who care enough to listen, unless you were there then you have no idea.
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JonDep's Opinion
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09/06/2016
The people who run the project know what is best for it. The government shouldn't require them to allow or ban family members. If it is better for families to speak, they will be allowed to. But the point is to have first person war stories, and family members of soldiers don't have the first person knowledge to share.
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bill Progress


  • EnactedNovember 28th, 2016
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The senate Passed November 15th, 2016
    Roll Call Vote 97 Yea / 0 Nay
      senate Committees
      Committee on Rules and Administration
  • The house Passed September 6th, 2016
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Administration
    IntroducedFebruary 9th, 2016

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What is House Bill H.R. 4511?

This bill would require the Veterans’ Oral History Project to allow the immediate family members of servicemembers who are killed or missing in action to participate in the Veterans History Project. Currently, those immediate family members aren’t been allowed to participate in the Project and offer stories of their loved ones as only first-hand accounts of living veterans are used.

Among the immediate family members who can participate would be parents, spouses, siblings, and/or children.

Impact

The immediate family members of killed or missing servicemembers; the Veterans History Project; and the Library of Congress.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4511

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) introduced this bill to ensure that the family members of killed or missing servicemembers are able to participate in the Veterans History Project:

“The Veterans History Project was created to turn memories into history, to memorialize the lives of the heroes whose selfless sacrifice we will never forget. The Gold Star Families Voices Act will provide family members with an opportunity to create a lasting narrative and living record of their fallen loved ones.”

The Committee on House Administration passed this legislation in a unanimous voice vote and it currently has the bipartisan support of seven House cosponsors, including five Republicans and two Democrats.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user pirateyjoe)

AKA

Gold Star Families Voices Act

Official Title

To amend the Veterans' Oral History Project Act to allow the collection of video and audio recordings of biographical histories by immediate family members of members of the Armed Forces who died as a result of their service during a period of war.

    The argument against this holds the idea that it is only soldiers effected by war. As we all know this is simply not the case. One man's involvement in the military has a profound effect on his family and that should be portrayed by the VHP.
    Like (31)
    Follow
    Share
    Arbitrarily creating laws to attempt to fix every special scenario that arises is the wrong approach to legislation and contributes nothing but to the giant ball of red tape strangling the effectiveness of government at all levels.
    Like (18)
    Follow
    Share
    No. Absolutely not. The only people who should be talking about their fallen or missing comrades are the Veterans themselves. While I can certainly understand and appreciate wanting to have the immediate family members who are killed or missing in action to tell the stories about their loved ones, I can give you one unequitable reason why they should not. Because they weren’t there. There is a very profound difference between telling a story and sharing what actually happened. I grew up listening to my Father tell me stories of when he was in Vietnam. The battles he fought in, the friends he lost, the lives he took. Even as a Combat Veteran myself, do I feel I have the right to recount his stories? No. Because I wasn’t there. He was. Being a Veteran, especially being a Combat Veteran, the experiences you endure in war are very personal experiences. They are intimate. They are precious. They are your own. I could share with you my experiences of what I did and seen in Afghanistan, but would you be able to retell what I just told you? No you wouldn’t. Because you wouldn’t know the feeling of what it is like to have bullets crack over your head, or what it is like to see your Soldier’s bleed out in front of you, or what it is like at the end of the day when you sit and stare up at the sky so physically and emotionally drained and wonder how, just how, you are going to make it through another day. I certainly, do not and in any regard, mean to take away from anything the family of a Veteran might have to share. Everyone’s experience in war is different from the person next to them. How else can you explain why, after we got hit for the first time, some guys were able to sleep that night whereas I didn’t sleep for three days after the attack? Or why some guys were able to go home and reintegrate with their families and their lives just fine, whereas my wife divorced me and I was diagnosed with an 80% disability rating with PTSD? Everyone handles their experiences differently, which is why only those who were there should be able to participate in this project. It’s like my Father told me, and it’s like I tell people who care enough to listen, unless you were there then you have no idea.
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    Should they want to participate, I believe that they should; a value added for sure.
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    The people who run the project know what is best for it. The government shouldn't require them to allow or ban family members. If it is better for families to speak, they will be allowed to. But the point is to have first person war stories, and family members of soldiers don't have the first person knowledge to share.
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    A soldier's full story of war cannot be told without his family's story if the soldier has been killed or severely injured. IMO the family can provide an essential context for a soldier's military story. Those families who desire to participate should be part of this process!
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    These people are brothers and sisters and sons and daughters and fathers and mothers before they are soldiers. Nobody can know a person and who they really are as well as that persons family. So for the sake of remembering someone as a person and not just simply a soldier it could only be fitting.
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    As a member of a Gold Star family, I believe this program should remain as is. My wife worked for 33 years to repatriate her brother's remains from Vietnam but doesn't feel the need to share the family disphoria. Her brother's comrades do have their stories and can still share them. Those are the Patriots who should contribute their stories.
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    How can anyone do this without taking the inputs from families and friends, but with their volunteered participation.
    Like (4)
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    Immediate family members should be given the opportunity to contribute to this History project. They will provide valuable insight.
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    Stop mandating people do things. The family members would be great additions to that project but no one should be required to do things. Give them the choice (and the project the choice to allow them to participate or not).
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    "The soldier's account of the realities of war;" that's only half the story. Families injured, betrayed and destroyed is another aspect that the soldiers must deal with. For example we never approached our dad, a veteran of WWII, Korea, Vietnam and was in Cuba during the missile crises, while he was sleeping or approached him unawares at any time. The rule kept us safe but isolated us further from him. A friend of mine's dad, whose family didn't a similar rule, awoke to find his hands clasped tightly around his sons thought. Luckily for my friend, his dad seeing what was happening released him and as luck would have we eventually went to the same college. The realities of war do not end when the battle is over and victory or loss is decided. The wars continue to be fought on a daily bases by the soldiers and their families who must deal with the wounds both physical and psychological for the life of their loved ones. This is the reality of war...it never ends for the soldier or their family! The family's voice need to be heard if you are to understand that reality.
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    Yes but it should be to there discretion
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    The government does not have the right to tell this organization how to operate. This organization has had a way of doing this for a while now and they're doing fine. Also, the whole idea is that these veterans are giving people a first hand account of their experiences. The families telling their stories would not be the same.
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    This is an optional avenue for the families to share a story. Not a mandate to share the story. The costs of war should and can be told by those that were there, but when those fallen soldiers cannot speak their story, then surviving families should be able to share the loss and represent the cost of what war has done. Zero impact to the tax base, improved oral communications through story, and as a nation we get the shared experience through their story. This is an easy vote.
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    I don't see a reason for them not to be involved.
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    It could be argued that family's of fallen vets make the ultimate sacrifice. In any case, their perspective is valuable and important.
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    Why is this even something that has to have a law made about it??
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    If they want to participate, they most certainly should be allowed!
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    Fallen warriors deserve to have their history represented by those they love or served with.
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