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Burial equity bill to be signed into law

WASHINGTON – Federal legislation that would allow members of Reserve and National Guard to be buried in veterans cemeteries is on its way to President Biden’s desk to be signed.

Sen. Kevin Cramer, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and sponsor of the Burial Equity for Guards and Reserves Act issued the following statement: “This is the absolute right thing to do. The brave members of the Reserve and National Guard are heroes who always step up to the plate when duty calls. This new law will ensure state veterans’ cemeteries will not be punished by Washington bureaucrats if they choose to bury these men and women.”

Sen. John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Committee and a bill sponsor, said, “State veterans cemeteries, including ours in North Dakota, allow servicemembers to be laid to rest with honor closer to their homes and loved ones.

“Our bill is one important way to honor their service, and comes as part of our broader efforts to ensure they receive the recognition and benefits that they have earned through their vital contributions to the security of our nation,” he added.

Currently, only certain service members who meet national eligibility standards are allowed to be buried in veterans’ cemeteries if the cemeteries receive federal grant funding. The Burial Equity for Guards and Reserves Act prohibits the Department of Veterans Affairs from conditioning such grants on a cemetery’s compliance with existing eligibility criteria for burial.

The act also would allow children of those eligible for burial to be buried in a state veterans’ cemetery if states so choose.

The bill received a legislative hearing last month and brought Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Matthew Quinn to Fargo to hear directly from North Dakotans on this issue. At a hearing in December, VA Secretary Denis McDonough issued his support for the bill.

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