Posted: June 18, 2014
The Dignified Burial and Other Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 2012, which was enacted in January 2013, prohibits the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from providing interment or memorialization benefits to Tier III sex offenders who were sentenced to a minimum of life imprisonment and whose convictions are final. It also prohibits the VA from providing interment or memorialization benefits to individuals who committed a state or federal capital crime. In order for the VA to appropriately administer the requirements of this law, they have revised the application forms for headstones, markers, medallions and presidential memorial certificates (PMC).
The revised forms require the applicant to certify "to the best of [the applicant's] knowledge, that the decedent has never committed a serious crime, such as murder or other offense that could have resulted in imprisonment for life, has never been convicted of a serious crime, and has never been convicted of a sexual offense for which he or she was sentenced to a minimum of life imprisonment." The accurate completion of and signature on these forms will help the VA to comply with current law. Failure to complete and sign these forms will delay the processing of requests for these memorial benefits. Furthermore, the willful submission of inaccurate information on these forms may result in the imposition of criminal penalties.
The newly revised forms that are immediately available online:
The PMC Request Form (VA 40-0247) is also being revised. Until the revised PMC Request Form is available, the current version should be used; it is available at http://www.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA40-0247.pdf.
The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) will continue to process claims submitted on old application forms through September 30, 2014. To ensure it meeting the requirements of the new law, it will contact each applicant that has submitted an old form to obtain verbal certification that the decedent has never committed a serious crime, such as murder or other offense that could have resulted in imprisonment for life, has never been convicted of a serious crime, and has never been convicted of a sexual offense for which he or she was sentenced to a minimum of life imprisonment.
Your use of the new forms will allow the VA to deliver the benefits more expeditiously without any inconvenience to the next of kin.
On October 1, 2014, NCA will no longer accept obsolete versions of the forms. The most recent version of the forms for headstone, marker, medallion and PMC are available on NCA's website using the links above.
Please share this information with anyone in your area who assists families with these benefits.