Lankford Leads Push to Expand Scholarship Eligibility for Military Spouses and Children

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Tom Carper (D-DE) introduced the Fry Scholarship Enhancement Act of 2023 to ensure surviving spouses and children of servicemembers who die as a result of a service-connected illness or injury have access to the benefits we owe them, some of which are currently tied up in eligibility timeframes that need to be corrected in law.


“The women and men serving in our nation’s National Guard and Reserve continue to support our country, and in return our nation should strongly support their families,” said Lankford. “The bipartisan bill to expand the Fry Scholarship to include the surviving families of members of the National Guard and Reserves who have died within 120 days of release from active duty is one that should pass this Congress without hesitation. I’m grateful for our colleagues in the House for their leadership on this bill, and I encourage the Senate to pass this bill in the days ahead.”


“Right now, the families of veterans who have died from service-related injury or illness—within 120 days of release from Active Duty—are afforded all VA benefits, except the Fry Scholarship. This is simply not fair to our service members who have given their life to protect our country,” said Carper. “This bipartisan legislation that I have introduced with Senator Lankford and the support of our nation’s Veterans Service Organizations will ensure that surviving spouses and children of our service members, who have made the ultimate sacrifice, receive the full set of VA education benefits that they deserve.”  


“Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors thanks Senators Lankford and Carper for re-introducing the Fry Scholarship Enhancement Act to expand eligibility for the Fry Scholarship to those who die in the 120 Day Release from Active Duty (REFRAD) period. Those who die in the 120 Day REFRAD period are eligible for all of the same benefits as those who die on active duty with the exception of the Fry Scholarship and this bill will bring a long overdue parity to those surviving spouses and children,” said Bonnie Carroll, TAPS Founder and President.





Currently, if a veteran dies from a service-connected injury or illness within 120 days from release from active duty they are considered to have died on active duty for all benefits, except the Marine Gunnery Sergeant John David Fry Scholarship. These benefits include Survivors Group Life Insurance (SGLI), Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), Survivors Benefits Plan (SBP), Death Gratuity, TRICARE for Life, MWR privileges, and burial benefits. This legislation would expand eligibility for the Fry Scholarship if a veteran dies from a service-connected illness or injury within 120 days from Release from Active Duty including National Guard and Reserve.