WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, today applauded Senate passage of the Veterans Cemetery Benefit Correction Act, legislation he introduced to require the U.S. Department of the Interior to provide outer burial receptacles – also known as grave liners – for veterans buried in cemeteries under the control of the National Park Service. In Georgia, this would include Andersonville National Cemetery in Andersonville.
The Veterans Cemetery Benefit Correction Act passed the Senate by unanimous consent and now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote.
“I’m pleased to see the Senate pass this bill, lifting the undue burden on the veterans and their families buried in cemeteries managed by the National Park Service,” said Isakson. “This bill ensures that all veterans are receiving the burial benefits they have earned regardless of where they are laid to rest. I urge the House to follow suit and pass this measure without delay.”
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 to provide this benefit for veterans buried in those cemeteries.
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.
U.S. Congressman Austin Scott, R-Ga.-08, introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives with Congressman 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.