Congressmen from opposite sides of the country have proposed legislation to help the families of deceased veterans.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., has introduced a bill that would modernize burial allowance benefits for veteran families.
And Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., has introduced legislation that would speed up the process that provides monetary benefits to survivors of service members who die in the line of duty or whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease.
Hunter’s Burial Rights for Veterans’ Efforts Act, H.R. 497, would seek to update a process that has seen little change since 1973, he said.
Burial benefits date back to 1917, the congressman said. “Like many government programs, however, this policy has become a bit complex and out of touch with today’s needs and costs.”
Hunter’s bill ties burial benefits to inflation and raises the benefits for veterans with a nonservice-connected death to match the benefits for those who died in a Department of Veterans Affairs facility.
Currently, families of veterans who die due to a service-connected disability receive a burial benefit of $2,000. The families of veterans who pass in a VA facility receive $780. And the families of veterans whose deaths are not service-connected receive $300.
Jones’s bill would reduce administrative burdens on grieving military families by streamlining the process by which they receive benefits.
H.R. 464 would alter the requirements for the Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefit that is paid to eligible survivors of some disabled veterans. The bill would require the VA to treat the notification of a veteran’s death as a claim for DIC benefits, removing the requirement for surviving family members to fill out a 12-page form that asks for information the VA already possesses.
“Veterans and their families have sacrificed so much to protect our way of life,” Jones said. “It is a slap in the face to burden them with red tape during their time of loss for a benefit they’ve earned.”