TRENTON, N.J. – The Assembly on Monday unanimously passed two measures sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer that support disabled veterans with federal student loan debt and military families who lost loved ones in the service.
The first bill (A655) codifies that New Jersey’s income tax exclusion for canceled debt also applies to a disabled veteran’s federal student loan debt that has been forgiven through the total and permanent disability discharge program. In August 2019, former President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing the Department of Education to automatically identify veterans who were permanently disabled due to a service-related condition as eligible for loan forgiveness through the program.
“The changes at the federal level by the Trump Administration to expedite the forgiveness process for disabled veterans, along with this legislation at the state level, will ultimately benefit New Jersey veterans who are paying a lifelong price for their service while also unfairly carrying burdensome student loan debt,” said Dancer (R-Ocean).
The second bill (A1455) expands the Gold Star parent identification card program to additional relatives of military members who died during active duty. With the card, spouses, domestic partners or civil union partners, and children would be allowed to receive discounts and other military family courtesies.
“Our brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to this country leave behind more than their biological parents or legal guardians. This bill recognizes that other close relatives have strong family ties to the service member, and the loss of a loved one for these relatives is no less painful,” Dancer said. “Gold Star ID cards are a small token of appreciation for grieving military families.”
The Gold Star program dates back to World War I when military families would fly flags with blue stars for every immediate family member serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. If that loved one died, the blue star was replaced by a gold star.
Both measures are awaiting Senate action.