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Bill opens eligibility for burial in state veterans cemeteries

WASHINGTON – Senators John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer, both R-N.D., along with Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan, both D-N.H., introduced bipartisan legislation last week to open eligibility for burial in state veterans’ cemeteries.

The Burial Equity for Guards and Reserves Act would make eligible all members of the Reserve Component, so long as their service was terminated under honorable conditions, and certain family members for burial in state veterans’ cemeteries.

Currently, if a cemetery receives federal grant funding, then only certain servicemembers who meet national eligibility standards are allowed to be buried there. This requirement has recently led to uncertainty regarding whether the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery may be eligible for certain grants. The bill would address this issue by prohibiting the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from conditioning grants on a cemetery’s compliance with existing eligibility criteria for burial.

“Members of the North Dakota National Guard and Reserve are some the finest in our nation’s military. This bipartisan legislation is about ensuring all veterans, regardless of status, receive the recognition they have earned,” said Hoeven. “It’s important these servicemembers are laid to rest with honor while being close to home for family and loved ones to pay their respects.”

“Guardsmen and Reservists sign up to risk their lives in defense of our freedoms. There is no reason to deem them as unworthy of being buried in a veterans cemetery after their death,” said Cramer. “Our legislation would ensure these heroes receive proper recognition for their sacrifice and service.”

The Burial Equity for Guards and Reserves Act would:

– Ensure the Veterans Affairs Department 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 (NH-01) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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