Congress Acts to Support Veterans
Brookfield, Wis. – The Burial Rights for America’s Veterans’ Efforts (BRAVE) Act of 2019 (H.R. 497/S. 598) has been introduced in the United States Senate and House of Representatives. The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) urges the 116th Congress to pass this important legislation, which would ensure veterans are not penalized due to their circumstance at the time of death or where they die.
“Funeral directors like me assist families with paying tribute to veterans who honorably served our country,” said Chuck Bowman, CMSP, CFSP, CCO, president of NFDA. “Passing the BRAVE Act will make certain veterans are treated equally and will help ensure they can be buried in a manner befitting their sacrifice. My National Funeral Directors Association colleagues and I wholeheartedly support this bipartisan legislation.”
The BRAVE Act will improve existing death benefits for veterans who meet certain eligibility requirements. It helps ensure that non-service connected deaths are treated equally, regardless of where a veteran dies, and makes certain that death benefits are indexed for inflation, alleviating the need for further adjustments from Congress.
- Current: $2,000 death funeral benefit for a service-connected disability
- The BRAVE Act will index the benefit for inflation
- Current: $780 funeral benefit for a non-service-connected death in a VA facility
- There will be no change to this benefit; it is already indexed for inflation
- Current: $300 funeral benefit for non-service-connected death not in a VA facility or when veteran has no next-of-kin
- The BRAVE Act will increase the benefit to $780 (equal to a non-service-connected death in a VA facility) and index it for inflation
“On behalf of the more than 20,000 members of the National Funeral Directors Association, I applaud our leaders in Congress for introducing this bill,” said Christine Pepper, CAE, CEO of NFDA. “As a nation, we owe so much to our veterans. The BRAVE Act will go a long way to helping ensure families can meaningfully commemorate the life of a veteran who has died; it is the least we can do as a grateful nation.”
Last year, in testimony before the Senate Veterans Committee, the Department of Veterans Affairs endorsed the BRAVE Act. Paul R. Lawrence, Ph.D., under secretary for Benefits, Veterans Benefits Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, testified that the BRAVE Act “will allow [the] VA to offer a more valuable reimbursement for the costs of a veteran’s funeral during a very difficult and vulnerable period of transition for the survivor.”
The BRAVE Act was also endorsed by several veterans’ service organizations during the Senate Veterans Committee hearing last year. In its testimony, The American Legion stated, “We support legislation increasing burial allowances and programs within the VA that will enhance, promote, restore or preserve benefits for veterans and their dependents.”
The Veterans of Foreign Wars testified, “The VFW supports this important bill, which would increase the funeral and burial benefit for eligible veterans.”
Other veterans’ service organizations endorsing the BRAVE Act include the Military Officers Association of America, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Association of the United States Navy and the Disabled American Veterans.
NFDA is the world’s leading and largest funeral service association, serving more than 20,000 individual members who represent nearly 11,000 funeral homes in the United States and 49 countries around the world. NFDA is the trusted leader, beacon for ethics and the strongest advocate for the profession. NFDA is the association of choice because it offers funeral professionals comprehensive educational resources, tools to manage successful businesses, guidance to become pillars in their communities and the expertise to foster future generations of funeral professionals. NFDA is headquartered in Brookfield, Wis., and has an office in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.nfda.org.