September 26, 2019

Van Hollen, Cardin Introduce Bill to Honor the Memory of Lt. Richard Collins by Setting a New Standard for ROTC Graduates Who Die Before their First Assignment

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (Both D-Md.) Thursday introduced new legislation to honor the sacrifices and commitment to service of Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Graduates who die between commissioning and their first assignment. The Second Lieutenant Richard W. Collins III Memorial Act is dedicated to Richard Collins III, an ROTC student at Bowie State University who had been commissioned into the U.S. Army, but then stabbed to death days before he reported to his first Army assignment. The legislation would mean that future families in this tragic situation would not have to endure the same fight for recognition as Lt. Collins’ family. Congressman Anthony G. Brown (MD-4) has introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

"Lt. Richard Collins' death was a heartbreaking tragedy. No military family grieving a loved one should have to deal with the added burden of bureaucratic red tape. That’s why I’ve joined my colleagues to introduce this legislation. Together we will continue working with the Collins family and the Army to address this issue," said Senator Van Hollen.

“Through his rigorous ROTC training, Lt. Collins had established himself as a dedicated soldier ready to serve his country. The horrendous circumstances of his death were compounded for his family by a system hamstrung in its attempts to support one of its newest officers,” said Senator Cardin. “Our hope is that this legislation can bring solace to the Collins family and future families who are forced to cope with the untimely loss of a loved one who had made a commitment to serve our nation.”


The core of the Second Lieutenant Richard W. Collins III Memorial Act (bill text) is changing the status for ROTC Graduates so that “a graduate of a reserve officers’ training corps who dies before receiving a first duty assignment shall be treated as a member of the Armed Forces who dies while on active duty.’’ In addition, it would

  • Modify the Death Gratuity benefits to include ROTC Graduates.
  • Allow for families of fallen ROTC Graduates to have assistance from a Casualty Assistance Officer.
  • Provide for life insurance for ROTC Graduates.
  • Retroactively provide benefits and resources to ROTC Graduates like Lt. Collins.