OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A Congressman from Oklahoma is hoping a piece of legislation will help surviving spouses and children of servicemembers.

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) 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 benefits.

Officials say some of those benefits are tied up in eligibility timeframes that need to be changed.

“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.”

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.

“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 Sen. Tom Carper, (D-DE), who also introduced the bill. “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.”