Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI)and Reps. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) today called for the inclusion of their bipartisan bill to increase funeral benefits for eligible veterans in the next phase of coronavirus relief legislation. With COVID-19 posing serious risks among elderly veterans and those with service-related health conditions, the Burial Rights for America’s Veterans’ Efforts (BRAVE) Act would upgrade the VA’s reimbursement for the costs of a veteran’s funeral, providing critical relief to surviving families suffering a loss.
“Forty percent of veterans are over the age of 65 and many young veterans suffer respiratory damage associated with burn pit exposure. Therefore a significant share of veterans are at high risk for COVID-19 exposure becoming fatal,” the lawmakers wrote. “Veterans should be treated equally based on their service. Unfortunately, current policy penalizes survivors based on the circumstances at the time of death.”
“Every veteran who served honorably deserves a dignified farewell,” the lawmakers continued. “At this time of crisis, it is critical that Congress acts to update and fix the unfair VA funeral benefit structure.”
In a letter to Congressional leaders, the lawmakers called for the inclusion of their bill to ensure all non-service connected deaths are treated equally, regardless of where the veteran passes away. Currently, veterans that pass away in a VA facility are provided greater funeral benefits than veterans who pass away in their home or another non-VA hospital.
Peters reintroduced the bipartisan BRAVE Act last year and previously testified in support of the bipartisan legislation at a Senate Veteran Affairs Committee hearing. VA Undersecretary for Benefits, Dr. Paul Lawrence, has expressed the VA’s support for Peters’ bill. Bustos and Kinzinger have introduced companion bipartisan legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The text of the letter is available here.
You Can Get Involved
NFDA is asking members to urge their senators and representatives to support inclusion of the BRAVE Act in the next round of pandemic relief legislation. Reaching out to your representatives in Washington, D.C., is easy using our prewritten message … click here to get started!