Veterans should be aware that according to current law, if a veteran dies without the resources to pay for a casket, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will provide one, as long as the veteran is buried in a national cemetery. In Ohio’s second district, which includes part of Scioto County, for example, a veteran would need to be transported to the national cemetery in Dayton or to one in Kentucky.
U.S. Representative Brad Wenstrup (OH-2) said the restriction has caused heartache for many families in southern and southwest Ohio: it can mean their loved one must be buried far away, potentially preventing them from attending the funeral or regularly visiting the gravesite.
Wenstrup, a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, has introduced the Charles Duncan Buried with Honor Act (H.R. 6114), the House of Representatives’ companion bill to Senator Tom Cotton’s bill (S. 3076) of the same name.
Wenstrup’s legislation would amend federal law to allow veterans buried in a casket purchased by the VA to have the option of internment at a state or tribal cemetery for which the VA has provided a grant. It would expand the internment options available to veterans in need, and it would increase their likelihood of being buried closer to their loved ones.
“Our nation’s veterans have sacrificed so much on our behalf. It’s the least we can do to ensure they are properly honored in death as they were in life,” Wenstrup said. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation alongside Senator Tom Cotton (AK) and Congressman Joe Heck (NV-3). I hope it will be quickly passed and signed into law to bring some peace of mind to our veterans and their families.”
The bill would amend title 38, United States Code, to authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to furnish caskets and urns for burial in cemeteries of States and tribal organizations of veterans without next of kin or sufficient resources to provide for caskets or urns, and for other purposes.
Charles Duncan, the namesake of this legislation, was a veteran living in Little Rock, Arkansas, who passed away last year. When Mr. Duncan was buried over 150 miles from his home, his own daughter was unable to attend his funeral.
H.R. 6114 has been referred to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where it awaits further consideration. S. 3076 passed the Senate on September 20, 2016.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.