Today the United States Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a legislative hearing on pending legislation, during which the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) officially endorsed the BRAVE Act (S. 1596).
Paul R. Lawrence, Ph.D, Under Secretary for Benefits, Veterans Benefits Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs testified that the “VA supports S. 1596 provided Congress finds corresponding funding offsets.” He went on to state, “The proposal will allow VA to offer a more valuable reimbursement for the costs of a veteran’s funeral during a very difficult and vulnerable period of transition for the survivor.”
NFDA strongly supports this important legislation that ensures non-service connected veteran deaths are treated equally, regardless of where a veteran dies as stated in NFDA’s position on the topic. This is legislation that NFDA has been actively supporting since the bill's introduction. NFDA thanks the Department of Affairs for their support of the BRAVE Act, as their support will significantly help the chances of passing this important legislation into law, ensuring veterans are no longer penalized for where they die.
“On behalf of more than 20,000 NFDA members, I am pleased to see this legislation taking an important step forward to protect our veterans,” said 2017-18 NFDA President Kenneth A. Cahall, CFSP, CCO. “I would like to thank Chairman Johnny Isakson and Ranking Member Jon Tester for holding this hearing to advance the legislative process.”
Christine Pepper, CEO, NFDA, expressed gratitude to the bill’s sponsors, Senators Gary Peters and Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate, and Representatives Duncan Hunter and Jim McGovern in the U.S. House of Representatives. “NFDA greatly appreciates the commitment of the bill’s sponsors and their tireless efforts in support of our nation’s veterans,” said Pepper.
In his testimony, Senator Gary Peters stressed that veterans’ burial benefits have not kept up with inflation and the cost of funerals and burials. “Our brave men and women in uniform have sacrificed so much in defense of our nation,” said Peters. “We owe it to them to ensure they receive the benefits that they have earned through their service, including a dignified burial.” He added, “I believe we should honor our nation’s heroes by making commonsense updates to VA burial benefits – ensuring every veteran has a proper funeral and burial, no matter the circumstances at the end of their lives.”
Testimony in support of the bill was also presented by national veterans’ services organizations, each expressing their support for the bill and emphasizing its importance:
Vietnam Veterans of America: “It makes sense, is logical, and we can see no reason not to urge Congress to embrace it.”
Disabled American Veterans (DAV): “DAV strongly supports S. 1596 in accordance with DAV Resolution no. 054, adopted at our most recent national convention.”
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW): “The VFW supports this important bill, which would increase the funeral and burial benefit for eligible veterans.”
American Legion: “We support legislation increasing burial allowances and programs within the VA that will enhance, promote, restore or preserve benefits for veterans and their dependents.”
The entire Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hearing is available online. Senator Peters’ testimony begins at minute 24. Click on the "progress bar" above the time clock, scroll to minute 24 and press play.