Congressman Ruiz Introduces Legislation to Aid Families of Fallen Heroes

Congressman Ruiz Introduces Legislation to Aid Families of Fallen Heroes

Martín Di Felice

Palm Desert, CA

It was an emotional press conference for the family of local fallen officers and first responders, as Congressman Raul Ruiz rolled out a new piece of legislation aiming to help them through tough times. 

The title of the House Bill is, "Heroes Leslie Zerebny and Gilbert Vega First Responder Survivor Support Act" named after two Palm Springs police officers who were shot while responding to a disturbance call in October 2016.

Ruiz said, "Each year an average of 150 law officers and 79 first responders lose their lives in the line of duty just to keep our communities safe."

The families of Officers Zerebny and Vega were present to hear the legislation that proposes to raise death and disability benefits for families from $350,000 to $500,000.  

The congressman said the House Bill would also increase education funds for families from $1,041 to $2,000 a month.

The bill getting support Democrats and Republicans, Ruiz said, "We can cure the illness of congressional hyper-partisan dysfunction once we come back to our core humanity."

Ruiz said the bill was in collaboration with local community, one of those members was the father-in-law of fallen Officer Zerebny, Dr. Matt Zerebny. 

"Having lost our Leslie, it is just so unimaginable you wake up in the middle of a nightmare every day," Dr. Zerebny said. "And to know how painful that is and to know that there are other families going through the same hell, and then they have this burden on top."

A burden Dr. Zerebny knows too well. He said the benefit bureaucratic process for benefits is lengthy and a reminder of their loss. 

Dr. Zerebny said, "They put their uniform on everyday under the understanding if hell comes to claim innocent lives, I’m going to get in the middle to save those families, so this isn’t a bi-partisan issue this is do what’s right to take care of these heroes families"

Congressman Ruiz said he will push to get this bill on the president’s desk by the end of the year.