U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is pushing for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to expand its funeral benefits for veterans.
Last week, Rubio paired up with U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., to unveil the “Burial Rights for America’s Veterans’ Efforts (BRAVE) Act” which would “update the current funeral and burial benefit system to treat all non-service connected deaths equally, regardless of where the veteran passes away.” Peters is the main sponsor of the bill.
“Veterans with no next of kin that pass away in a VA facility are currently provided greater funds to cover the costs of their funerals and burials than veterans who pass away in their home or another medical facility,” Rubio’s office noted.
Under current law, the VA provides $780 for burial services for non-service deaths if the veteran was at a VA facility. The VA offers $300 for burial services for non-service deaths of veterans not connected to VA facilities. Rubio’s proposal would ensure all veterans who die from non-service reasons will be provided $780 in funeral benefits and indexes that for inflation.
“We will never be able to fully repay our veterans who have sacrificed so much defending our country, but we can ensure they have a proper funeral and burial no matter where they pass away,” Rubio said. “I am proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation to ensure we properly honor all of America’s heroes with the honor and respect they deserve.”
“It is our responsibility to ensure that our brave men and women who have sacrificed so much to defend our way of life receive the benefits they earned through their service, including a dignified burial,” said Peters. “The current veterans funeral benefits system is inefficient and outdated. This legislation will not only update these benefits, but also help ensure that our nation’s heroes have the funeral and burial they and their families deserve.”
The proposal has the support of Veterans of Foreign Wars, the National Funeral Directors Association and the Association of the United States Navy.
The bill was sent to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. So far, there is no counterpart over in the U.S. House.