Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Gary Peters (D-MI) today announced that they are reintroducing bipartisan legislation to improve burial services for our nation’s veterans by increasing funeral benefits offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The Burial Rights for America’s Veterans’ Efforts (BRAVE) Act would update the current funeral and burial benefit system to treat all non-service connected deaths equally, regardless of where the veteran passes away. 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.
 
“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, a former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The current veterans funeral benefits system is inefficient and outdated.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 Veterans of Foreign Wars supports the BRAVE Act of 2019, which would increase funeral and burial benefits for eligible veterans,” said Carlos Fuentes VFW’s Director of the National Legislative Service. “The current allowances are well below the cost in the private sector. The VFW thanks Senator Peters and Senator Rubio for their leadership on this issue and continued dedication to veterans.”
 
“On behalf of the more than 20,000 members of the National Funeral Directors Association, I applaud Senators Peters and Rubio for introducing this bill,” said Christine Pepper, CAE, CEO of the National Funeral Directors Association. “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.”
 
“Funeral directors like me assist families with paying tribute to veterans who honorably served our country,” said Chuck Bowman, CMSP, CFSP, CCO, President of the National Funeral Directors Association. “Passing the BRAVE Act will make certain all 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 whole heartedly support this bipartisan legislation.”
 
“The Association of the United States Navy pledges its support for the Burial Rights for America's Veterans' Efforts (BRAVE) Act,” said RADM Christopher Cole (USN, Ret.), Chief Executive Officer, Association of the United States Navy. “This bill would increase funding through the Department of Veterans Affairs for burials and funerals of non-service veteran deaths."
 
Currently, VA burial benefit provides $300 for non-service connected deaths at a non- VA facility. The BRAVE Act will increase this benefit to $780 to equal the benefit received if a veteran passes away in a VA facility The legislation additionally indexes for inflation both the non-service and service-related passing funeral benefits, thereby eliminating the need for Congress to make further readjustments.
 
According to the National Funeral Directors Association, national median cost of a funeral in 2015 was $7,181 - not including a vault, which is typically required by most cemeteries. Over the past decade, the median cost of an adult funeral in the United States has increased 28.6 percent and has not kept up with the pace of inflation. For instance, in 1973, the benefit for a veteran with no next-of-kin and a non-service connected death would have been 22 percent of the national average, versus the 2 percent it covers today.
 
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