FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2018
Contact: Amanda Maddox, 202-224-7777
Camlin Moore, 202-224-9126
Isakson, Scott Introduce Bill to Require Equal Benefits Across National Veterans Cemeteries
Legislation to provide outer burial receptacles at no cost for veterans buried at national park cemeteries
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and U.S. Representative Austin Scott, R-Ga.-08, today introduced the Veterans Cemetery Benefit Correction Act, a bill to require the U.S. Department of the Interior to provide outer burial receptacles for veterans buried in cemeteries under the control of the National Park Service. In Georgia, this would include Andersonville National Cemetery in Andersonville, Ga.
Current law requires the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide an outer burial receptacle to a veteran buried in a national cemetery under the control of the National Cemetery Administration, a branch of the VA. Additionally, the VA can provide a reimbursement if the family chooses to purchase one in lieu of a government-furnished grave liner.
National Park Service cemeteries are not currently covered by this statute and neither the VA nor the National Park Service is able provide this benefit for veterans buried in those cemeteries.
“Currently there is a gap in benefits for veterans who are buried in a cemetery managed by the National Park Service,” said Sen. Isakson, who chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and is a veteran himself. “This creates an undue burden on the veteran and their family. With this bill, we are seeing to it that all veterans and their families are receiving the burial benefits they have earned.”
“To honor their sacrifices and commitment to our country, it is our duty to take care of our warfighters and their families, which is why I am pleased to introduce this commonsense legislation alongside Sen. Isakson to ensure our veterans receive equal burial benefits regardless of where they are laid to rest,” said Rep. Scott.
The Veterans Cemetery Benefit Correction Act amends the law to require the Department of Interior to provide an outer burial receptacle for each new veteran’s grave in a national cemetery under the control of the National Park Service. This bill also provides for the reimbursement of a veteran’s survivors who provide a privately purchased outer burial receptacle for use in a National Park Service cemetery.
Of the 14 national cemeteries controlled by the National Park Service, two are still active: Andersonville National Cemetery in Georgia and Andrew Johnson National Cemetery in Tennessee.
A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here.
The Veterans Cemetery Benefit Correction Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Dean Heller, R-Nev., Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C.
Scott introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives with U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop, D-Ga.-02, on Jan. 30, 2018.
The Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is chaired by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., in the 115th Congress. Isakson is a veteran himself – having served in the Georgia Air National Guard from 1966-1972 – and has been a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs since he joined the Senate in 2005. Isakson’s home state of Georgia is home to more than a dozen military installations representing each branch of the armed services as well as more than 750,000 veterans.