March 20, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Austin Scott (GA-08) participated in a House Veterans Affairs Committee legislative hearing examining his bill, the Veterans Cemetery Benefit Correction Act (H.R. 4910). H.R. 4910 would amend 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 (NPS). This bill would also provide for the reimbursement of a veteran’s survivors who provide a privately purchased outer burial receptacle for use in a NPS cemetery.
“To honor the sacrifices and commitment of our veterans to our country, it is our duty as members of Congress to take care of our warfighters and their families,” said Rep. Scott. “It is now more important than ever to close the gap in benefits for veterans who are buried in cemeteries managed by the National Park Service, and this bipartisan piece of legislation will ensure that all veterans and their families are receiving the benefits and respect they have rightly earned.”
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. NPS-managed cemeteries however are not currently covered by this statute and neither the VA nor the NPS is able provide this benefit for veterans buried in those cemeteries.
Of the 14 national cemeteries controlled by the NPS, two are still active: Andersonville National Cemetery in Georgia and Andrew Johnson National Cemetery in Tennessee.
In the House, cosponsors of Rep. Scott’s legislation include U.S. Representatives Sanford Bishop (GA-02), Marsha Blackburn (TN-07), Paul Cook (CA-08), Scott DesJarlais (TN-04), Neal Dunn (FL-02), Drew Ferguson (GA-03), Karen Handel (GA-06), Walter B. Jones (N.C.-03), Steve Scalise (LA-01), Mac Thornberry (TX-13), and Mike Turner (OH-10).
Additionally, Rep. Scott’s bill is supported by outside veterans groups including the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Vietnam Veterans of America.
Similar legislation sponsored by U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, passed the U.S. Senate on March 1, 2018.