Hurd, Davis Introduce Bill to Help Service Members During Times of Loss

June 5, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Susan Davis (D-Calif.) today introduced The Elaine M. Checketts Military Families Act, H.R. 7101, to allow service members time to grieve the death of their children. 

Major Matthew Checketts—an Active Duty Airman based at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland—tragically lost his daughter Elaine, whom the bill is named after, while serving. To ensure all military members, like Major Checketts have time to grieve after losing a child, this legislation would amend current leave policy for service members so their pre-approved parental leave is not terminated in the tragic event of a child’s death.

“The tragic loss of a child creates an immeasurable amount of pain for families, and, just like any other American family, our men and women in uniform should have the time to grieve the loss of their child. Major Matthew Checketts tragically lost his daughter and needed time to grieve. I pray for their family and other military families as they endure such tremendous loss. Those who serve in our Armed Forces sacrifice so much for us to enjoy our freedoms and our way of life. Making sure they can be with their loved ones in times of loss is something simple and necessary we must do for our service members,” said Hurd.

"There is nothing worse for a parent than the loss of a child," said Davis. "To force a servicemember to cancel their caregiver leave if their child dies, only adds insult to injury. Our men and women in uniform shouldn't lose leave in what would be a devastating time for their family."

“The opportunity to complete my leave after our daughter passed away, thanks to the kindness and understanding of my commander, was a tremendous blessing for our family.  We desperately needed that time to arrange for all that comes with the loss of a loved one. In addition, I was able to help take care of my wife while she physically recovered from the traumatic birth. Then, as a family, we began the slow and seemingly endless process of emotional recovery without the added stress of going back to work full-time.  We hope this new bill will guarantee that all service members be afforded the same opportunity to plan and recover as we did,” said Major Checketts.

This legislation was also introduced in the Senate by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.). It has also received the endorsement of the Association of the United States Army.

“The Association of the United States Army thanks Reps. Hurd and Davis for introducing this important legislation. Losing a child is tragic and parents need time to grieve. This legislation will give parents the flexibility of using their pre-approved leave to heal and put their lives back together,” said LTG Guy Swan, USA Retired, Vice President for Education at the Association of the United States Army.