Oakland Press: Sen. Peters introduces bill to increase veterans' burial benefits

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Michigan, recently spoke at a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing in support of bipartisan legislation he introduced to increase funeral benefits for eligible veterans.

The Burial Rights for America’s Veterans’ Efforts Act updates the current benefit system to treat all non-service connected deaths equally, regardless of where the veteran dies.

Currently, eligible veterans who die at a Department of Veterans Affairs facility receive more funds to cover funeral and burial costs than those who die in a private home or other facility.

Peters introduced the BRAVE Act with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida.

“Our brave men and women in uniform have sacrificed so much in the defense of our nation.

“We owe it to them to ensure they receive the benefits that they earned through their service, including a dignified burial.

“Unfortunately, current VA burial benefits are woefully insufficient. The national median cost of a funeral in 2017 was $8,755. However, the VA burial benefits provide a mere $2000 for service-connected deaths, $762 non-service-connected deaths for veterans who pass away in a VA facility, and $300 for all (other) non-service-connected deaths.

“The legislation also ensures that all burial benefits are indexed for inflation – eliminating the need for Congress to make further readjustments and providing future generations of our nation’s veterans with the dignified burial that they have earned through their service,” Peters said.

The BRAVE Act is supported by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, the National Funeral Directors Association, the Association of the United States Navy, the American Legion and Disabled American Veterans.

Peters is a former lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

By:  Anne Runkle
Source: Oakland Press