Expanding veterans funeral benefits is the impetus of the The Burial Rights for America’s Veterans’ Efforts (BRAVE) Act of 2019 (H.R. 497/S. 598), which was introduced to Congress earlier this year. If passed, the BRAVE Act will improve existing death benefits for veterans who meet certain eligibility requirements.
The act’s aim is to ensure that non-service connected deaths are treated equally, regardless of where a veteran dies, and makes certain that death benefits are indexed for inflation, alleviating the need for further adjustments from Congress.
The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) and Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium support the passing of the legislation, which would ensure veterans are not penalized due to their circumstance at the time of death or where they die.
“Passing the BRAVE Act will allow for our military heroes to be provided with a funeral service that befits their sacrifices,” said Buddy Phaneuf, President of Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium.
Here is a look at current veteran funeral benefits (including those not part of the BRAVE Act) and the proposed benefits from the BRAVE Act:
Active Duty or Service Connected Death
- $2,000 is currently available if the veteran died during active duty; or an honorably-discharged veteran died of a service-connected injury.
- The BRAVE Act will index the benefit for inflation.
Non-Service-Connected Death in VA Facility
- A $780 funeral benefit is currently available for a non-service-connected death in a VA facility.
- There will be no change to this benefit with the BRAVE Act, as it is already indexed for inflation.
Non-Service-Connected Death not in a VA Facility
- $300 is currently available as a funeral benefit for non-service-connected death not in a VA facility or when the veteran has no next-of-kin.
- The BRAVE Act will increase the benefit to $780 (equal to a non-service-connected death in a VA facility) and index it for inflation.
We’ve assembled a list of relevant forms for veterans’ funeral and burial benefits that veterans at this link.
The BRAVE Act is also endorsed by:
- The Department of Veterans Affairs
- The American Legion
- The Veterans of Foreign Wars
- The Military Officers Association of America
- The Vietnam Veterans of America
- The Association of the United States Navy
- The Disabled American Veterans
As of this writing, the BRAVE Act has 32 co-sponsors from Congress and has been referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. This post will be updated with the results of the act so please bookmark it to stay informed.