As part of its mission, the Veterans Administration maintains a program to give the grave of every deceased Veteran a proper marker recognizing his or her military service, In recent years, the process for arranging that recognition has been changed in such a way that if a Veteran has outlived his family and failed to make arrangement for this honor in advance of his death, his service will not be recognized because there is no living relative able to request a medalion or stone on his or her behalf.
While the VFW National Convention passed a resolution seeking to assure that Veterans deceased prior to 1990 would be eligible for grave markers or medalions, the American Legion attacked the more specific poblem that crops up when the deceased Veteran has no living descendants who can meet the current requirements as stipulated on Form VA40-1330, which stipulates that the party applying for the deceased’s honors meets the following requirements: WHO CAN APPLY – Federal regulation defines “Applicant” as the decent’s Next-of-Kin (NOK); a person authorized in writing by the NOK;or a personal representative authorized in writing by the decedent. Written authorizaion must be included with claim.
So far, efforts to modify these regulations have been directed at proposing legislation in the US Congress, but now the Veterans Administration is seeking to change the restricting regulation administratively instead. That means it is possible the problem can be solved without the long process of enacting a new law.
On October 1, 2014, the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) published, in the Federal Register, a proposed rule to amend the existing definition of eligible applicants by expanding the types of individuals who may request headstones or markers on behalf of decedents. The amendment addresses the very concernswe are talking about.
We are encouraging our members to take the time to review the proposed rule change, follow the guidelines for entering public comment, and make their support of the proposed amendment officially known. The deadline to submit comments is December 1st.