ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Congressman Joe Morelle announced new legislation on Friday that aims to strengthen the benefits that the families of Medal of Honor recipients would receive.
The Gary Beikirch Medal of Honor Act, named after Sergeant Gary Beikirch, was announced at Gary Beikirch Veterans Memorial Park. Morelle said the proposed act would allow the surviving spouses of recipients to collect the Medal of Honor Pension and the Dependent Indemnity Compensation. Currently, spouses could only receive one or the other.
“Medal of Honor recipients are among the most selfless, courageous, and heroic men and women who serve our armed forces,” said Congressman Joe Morelle. “We have a duty to honor their profound service and sacrifice by ensuring their families receive the full benefits they deserve.”
This change would double the compensation offered to the loved ones of recipients.
“My dad lived his life for others and that never changed even to the end,” said Stepanie Beikirch, the daughter of Sergeant Beikirch. “The most important thing to him even through his illness was planning to make sure my mother was cared and provided for. This piece of legislation makes that now possible for her and more importantly for all generations to come.”
Nic Stefanovic, the Director of Monroe County Veterans Services, said that this is the kind of help that Gary Beikirch would want.
“We were talking about different things and, once again, he [Beikirch] was focusing on me and the problems I had in my life, even though he knew he was in his last days,” Stefanovic said. “We were talking about my daughter, and he just briefly glanced up and said — ‘Can you make sure that they’re gonna be okay?'”
Currently, 3,500 individuals have received the Medal of Honor since the award was established during the Civil War.