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House Panel Oks Change to Veteran’s Burial Rights

October 22, 2009

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House Panel Oks Change to Veteran’s Burial Rights

A retroactive change in veterans burial rights that allows the biological or adoptive parents of some deceased service members to be buried in national veterans cemeteries was approved Wednesday by a House subcommittee.

The bill, HR 761, is being called the Corey Shea Act, named for a 21-year-old Army specialist killed in Iraq last fall whose mother, Denise Anderson, wants to be buried beside him when she dies.

The bill, approved by voice vote by the House Veterans? Affairs Committee?s disability assistance and memorial affairs panel, says the biological or adoptive parents of a service member who dies on active duty in hostile action or in a training-related accident may be buried in the same plot if the service member has no dependents and if space is available. This is a change from the bill?s original wording, which also would have included stepparents and foster parents.

Rep. John Hall, D-N.Y., the subcommittee chairman, said most plots in national veterans cemeteries have room for three caskets, one atop another, as long as the first casket is buried deep enough so others can be placed on top as other family members die. As a result, a key factor in whether a parent could be buried with a son or daughter is if the service members? casket is placed so there is room for other family members.

The Veterans Affairs Department had raised concerns over limits on who could be considered a parent and families taking up more than one plot at a cemetery. Hall said VA supports the amended bill.

As introduced earlier this year, HR 761 would not have applied to Anderson because it was restricted to deaths of service members after it becomes law. Hall said that at the urging of the bill?s chief sponsor, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the bill has been made retroactive to service deaths since Oct. 7, 2001, so that Anderson would be covered.v

The full House Veterans? Committee is expected to take up the bill next week.

Source: The Navy Times