Legislation would ensure Guard, Reserve members of burial in state veterans cemeteries

FUNERAL
The Burial Equity for Guards and Reserves Act would prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs from conditioning such grants on a cemetery’s compliance with existing eligibility criteria for burial. Photo credit Jesse A. Leon Guerrero/Defense Imagery Operations

Legislation that would ensure all members of the Reserves and National Guard would be eligible to be buried in state veterans cemeteries as long as their service ended under honorable conditions has been reintroduced in both the U.S. House and Senate.

Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Hoeven (R-ND), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) are cosponsors of the bill in the Senate.

Currently, only certain service members of the Guard and Reserves who meet national eligibility standards are allowed to be buried if cemeteries receive federal grant funding.

The Burial Equity for Guards and Reserves Act corrects that by prohibiting the Department of Veterans Affairs from conditioning such grants on a cemetery’s compliance with existing eligibility criteria for burial.

“Guard members and Reservists sign up to serve like all of their fellow service members across the military branches. It’s unacceptable that the VA currently prohibits many of them from being buried in a state veterans cemetery. Service on behalf of our nation should be rewarded with honorable burials – period,” said Shaheen.

Hoeven said the bipartisan legislation ensures that all veterans, regardless of status, receive the recognition they deserve.

“It’s important these service members are laid to rest with honor while being close to home for family and loved ones to pay their respects,” he said.

First introduced in 2020, the Burial Equity for Guards and Reserves Act was updated this year to:

Ensure that the VA cannot limit plot allowances provided to state veterans cemeteries if they choose to bury the individuals specified in the legislation.

Allow children of those eligible for burial to be buried in a state veterans cemetery as well if they choose.

Congressman Chris Pappas (D-NH), a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, is leading the legislation in the House, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Annie Kuster (D-NH) and Steven Palazzo (R-MS).

Full text of the bill is available here.

Reach Julia LeDoux at Julia@connectingvets.com.

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