NFDA will initiate and support legislation, rules and regulations that improve funeral and burial benefits for Veterans and their families, and will continue to work with Congress, the Department of Defense, individual service branches, veterans service organizations and other interested parties to improve the military honors program and ensure that implementing policies regarding the providing of military honors for qualified veterans reflect congressional intent and are enhanced and improved where appropriate and necessary.
Currently, there are numerous funeral and burial benefits available to veterans and their families including burial in national cemeteries, headstones and markers, memorial plots, presidential certificates, burial flags, reimbursement of burial expenses, life insurance, and other related benefits.
In 2015, NFDA continued to research opportunities for us to support all legislation that would enhance, improve and increase the funeral and burial benefits for veterans and their families. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) introduced H.R. 1911, legislation that will create equity among veterans and ensure that veterans receive a dignified funeral and burial regardless of ability to pay or circumstances of death. Key elements of the legislation are as follows: increase funeral benefit for non-service-connected deaths or veterans with no next of kin from $300 to $2,000; increase funeral benefit from $700 to $2,000 for death in a VA department facility; and index these two benefits for inflation (the current code only indexes payment for “death in a VA facility” for inflation).
NFDA Advocacy staff is actively working to increase cosponsors for H.R. 1338, legislation that requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to study and report to Congress on matters relating to interring of veterans' unclaimed remains in national cemeteries under the control of the National Cemetery Administration. NFDA provided testimony in support of this important legislation before the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs on June 24, 2015. On November 16, 2015 the legislation passed the House by a 409-0 vote. The following day, this legislation was received by the Senate and referred to the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs. We will continue to advocate for the passage of this legislation in the Senate.
NFDA Advocacy staff is actively working to increase cosponsors for H.R. 250, legislation to provide a permanent appropriation of funds for the payment of death gratuities and related benefits for survivors of deceased members of the uniformed services in event of any period of lapsed appropriations.