Hoeven: Senate VA Committee Votes to Advance Burial Equity for Guard and Reserves Act

Senator Worked to Secure Support for Legislation with VA Under Secretary During Recent ND Visit

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today issued the following statement after the Senate Veterans Affairs (VA) Committee approved bipartisan, bicameral legislation he introduced with Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) to include as eligible for burial in state veterans’ cemeteries members of the National Guard and Reserve Component. The Burial Equity for Guards and Reserves Act would make eligible for burial in state veterans’ cemeteries all members of the Reserve Component, so long as their service was terminated under other than dishonorable conditions, as well as certain family members. The legislation also received approval from the House VA Committee earlier this year.

Today’s committee action follows meetings Senator Hoeven held last month with VA Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs (USMA) Matthew Quinn in North Dakota, where the senator worked to secure support for the legislation. Hoeven, who serves as a member of the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Committee, invited Quinn to visit the state to meet with local veterans support groups and review both the national and state veteran cemeteries in Fargo and Mandan.

“State veterans cemeteries, including North Dakota’s, provide veterans more options to be laid to rest with honor, closer to home,” said Hoeven. “Our legislation helps ensure more servicemembers and their families can choose this option, making it easier for loved ones to visit and pay their respects, without risking the federal funding that these cemeteries rely upon.”

Currently, if a cemetery receives federal grant funding, then only certain servicemembers who meet national eligibility standards are allowed to be buried there. This requirement has led to uncertainty regarding whether the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery may be eligible for certain grants. The bill introduced by Hoeven and Shaheen would address this issue by prohibiting the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from conditioning grants on a cemetery’s compliance with existing eligibility criteria for burial.