WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Last July, as Connecticut resident Rachel Clark drove her daughter to gymnastics, she got a notification that two soldiers were at her door.
“That is when they told me that Mike was killed,” Rachel said.
Her husband, Sgt. First Class Michael Clark, died during a 30-day training exercise in Georgia.
“He was struck by lightning and of course, I didn’t believe them,” Rachel said.
And on top of his death, Rachel’s family soon faced another issue: the loss of their healthcare coverage.
“They would increase our monthly payment over 400% or they would drop me,” Rachel said.
Because Michael’s death happened during a training exercise, military policy only allowed 6 months of continuing health coverage, instead of the 3 years offered after the death of an active duty service member. Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) said that needs to change.
“Tragic events really expose weaknesses and gaps in the law,” Courtney said.
He is introducing bipartisan legislation to do just that.
“To create parity for reservists with active duty service members,” Courtney said.
Even though they can’t comment on pending legislation, the National Guard Bureau says they “support efforts to provide better health benefits to our soldiers, Airmen, and their families.”
Rachel and Michael’s father say they’re glad the congressman stepped up.
“And we also want to thank Congressman Courtney for bringing this to everyone’s attention,” Rachel and her father-in-law said.
Courtney is hopeful this could be included in this year’s defense bill.