Rep. Scott, Sen. Isakson Introduce Bill to Close Gap in Benefits for Veterans Buried in NPS Managed Cemeteries
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Austin Scott (GA-08) and U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, 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.
“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.
“Currently there is a gap in benefits for veterans who are buried in a cemetery managed by the National Park Service,” said Isakson, who chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and is a veteran himself. “This creates as 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.”
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 (NPS) 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.
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 NPS. This bill also provides for the reimbursement of a veteran’s survivors who provide a privately purchased outer burial receptacle for use in a NPS cemetery.
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, Representative Sanford Bishop (GA-02) is a cosponsor of Rep. Scott’s legislation.
Additionally, cosponsors of Sen. Isakson’s companion legislation in the Senate include U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Steve Daines (R-MT), Dean Heller (R-NV), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).