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.
We support the BRAVE Act - "Burial Rights for America's Veterans' Efforts Act of 2017"
Veterans have served our nation and deserve a dignified funeral and burial. They should not be penalized for where they die and should be treated equally based on their service, not their circumstances at their time of death.
Today, the average cost of funeral is about $10,000. The Department of Veterans Affairs stated that “significant increases in the allowances are necessary to restore the value of these important benefits to original levels.”1 And “monetary burial benefits generally do not cover the entire cost of a funeral”. 2
Adjustments have been made to the allowances since 1973, the first year of service-connected burial benefits, but they have not kept up with the inflation of funeral and burial expenses. In 1973, the burial allowance for veterans with no next of kin and non-service-connected funeral costs deaths was 22% of funeral and burial costs. Today the value of this allowance has decreased significantly to roughly 2%.
The BRAVE Act of 2017:
Is bipartisan legislation (H.R. 1212) with a mix of six original House sponsors: Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) James McGovern (D-MA); Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO); Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL); Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI); Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA).
Is bipartisan legislation (S. 1596) introduced by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Gary Peters (D-MI).
Is designed to improve existing benefits for veterans meeting eligibility requirements.
Ensures all non-service connected veteran deaths are treated equally, regardless of where a veteran dies.
Ensures all benefits for inflation to alleviate the need for further adjustments from Congress.
The BRAVE Act makes the following modifications:
A. $2,000 for death from service-connected disability
Change: Index for inflation
B. $749 for death in a VA department facility
C. $300 for non-service-connected death or veterans with no next of kin (not in a VA facility)
Change: Raise to $749 to equal death in a VA facility and index for inflation
In order to be eligible for this benefit, a veteran must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable and meet at least one of the following conditions:
Died as a result of a service-connected disability;
Was receiving VA pension or compensation at the time of death;
Entitled to receive VA pension or compensation, but took full military retirement or disability pay;
Died while hospitalized by VA, or while receiving care under VA contract at a non-VA facility;
Died while traveling under authorization and at VA expense to, or from, a specified place for purpose of examination, treatment, or care;
Had original or reopened claim for VA compensation or pension pending at the time of death and would have been entitled to benefits from a date prior to the date of death, or
Died while a patient at a VA-approved state facility.
Veterans Service Organization (VSO) support: