Shaheen, Hassan Lead Bipartisan, Bicameral Letter Urging VA to Open Eligibility for Burial in State Veterans Cemeteries to All Service Members

October 18, 2021

** The letter continues pressure from lawmakers to ensure equal burial for members of the Reserve and National Guard components **

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) led a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers in a letter today calling on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to put implementing reforms to the Veterans Cemetery Grant Program. They demanded that all members of the Reserve and National Guard elements be eligible for burial in state veterans cemeteries, provided their service is terminated in honorable conditions.

The letter continues pressure from lawmakers to ensure equal burial for members of the Reserve and National Guard components. Currently, only certain service members who meet national eligibility standards are allowed to be buried if cemeteries receive federal grants, including the New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery at Boscawen. In June, Shaheen presented the Guards and Reservists Burial Fairness Act, a legislation supported by Hassan which would prohibit the VA from making these grants conditional on the conformity of a cemetery with the existing eligibility criteria for burial. In addition to calling for reforms, lawmakers have called on the VA to end its current practice of punishing cemeteries of state veterans who bury the spouses, minor children, or unmarried adult children of these servicemen in also conditioning federal subsidies on the conformity of a cemetery with the existing burial. eligibility criteria.

“Dozens of commentators, including leaders of state veterans cemeteries across the country, have indicated their support for efforts to expand eligibility for burial in a veterans’ cemetery. ‘State to other members of the National Guard and reserve elements’, wrote the lawmakers. “The leadership of the National Guard and veteran cemeteries in our states have indicated their strong support for this change in eligibility to ensure those who have served receive the proper burial they deserve. We have also heard from constituents who have served in elements of the National Guard and Reserve and believe that existing restrictions on the Department’s grant program do not recognize their contributions to the service of our nation.

they continued“National Guardsmen and Reservists swear to defend this country just as their active duty counterparts do, and we need to make sure they receive the respect and recognition they deserve.” Lawmakers concluded by asking the VA to consider these reforms to expand eligibility for the ministry’s veterans cemetery grant program as they review information gathered throughout its information request process. .

U.S. Senators John Hoeven (R-ND) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Representatives Chris Pappas (NH-01) and Annie Kuster (NH-02) also signed the letter.

The full text of the letter can be read here.

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