The Burlington County Clerk’s Office is now issuing Gold Star Family identification cards to the spouses, domestic partners, civil union partners and children of military members who died while serving on active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces.
Burlington County issued the first of the new identification cards to Moorestown’s Judith Young, past president of the American Gold Star Mothers organization and the chair of the Gold Star Mothers National Monument Foundation, and her husband, John Young. Their son Marine Corps Sgt. Jeffrey D. Young was among the 241 casualties of the October 23, 1983, terrorist bombing of the Marine Corps command post in Beirut, Lebanon.
“We can never repay the debt we owe to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, but these identification cards are a small way to honor their service and sacrifice and to extend support to their families whenever possible,” said Burlington County Commissioner Allison Eckel, Military and Veteran’s Affairs liaison. “We want to let these families know how grateful we are and that we are here for them if needed. These cards can help us do that.”
“We have a responsibility to always remember those who answered the call and laid down their lives in service, and that includes honoring the family they left behind who shared in their sacrifice,” added Commissioner Deputy Director Tom Pullion, liaison to the Burlington County Military Affairs Committee. “For them, we know there is nothing that can fill the void left from their loss. But these cards serve as a small token of appreciation from a grateful county and a reminder that their loved one’s sacrifice is not forgotten.”
The free identification cards enable Gold Star family members to receive certain discounts or courtesies extended to miliary families. In New Jersey, these include free admission to federal and state parks and recreation areas, free or reduced fees to New Jersey beaches and free admission to the New Jersey State Museum. Burlington County also offers free adoptions from the Burlington County Animal Shelter for all veterans and military families.
In addition to those benefits, a Gold Star Family identification card can also be used to receive discounts or benefits offered by some stores and restaurants for veterans and Gold Star families.
Eligibility for the Gold Star Family ID cards was recently expanded to include children whose parent or legal guardian died while serving on active duty with the Armed Forces, whether they were related by blood or by law.
“We’re proud to offer this service to the mothers, fathers, sons, spouses and children of those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Burlington County Clerk Joanne Schwartz. “We want to encourage all residents who qualify to take advantage of this service and all the others offered by our office.”
Burlington County residents whose child, spouse, domestic partner, civil union partner, parent or other legal guardian who died while serving on active duty with the United States Armed Forces are eligible for the cards, regardless of whether they were related by blood or by law. Those residents can obtain a Gold Star Family identification card at the Burlington County Clerk’s Office at 50 Rancocas Street in Mount Holly.
Proper documentation is required and can include the service member’s federal DD Form 1300 or a report of casualty identifying the member of the armed forces who died while on active duty for the United States.