Hoeven’s burial equity bill for National Guard, Reservists set to become law

Both houses of Congress recently approved the bipartisan, bicameral Burial Equity for Guard and Reserves Act of 2021 cosponsored by U.S. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) and the bill now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

“State veterans cemeteries, including ours in North Dakota, allow service members to be laid to rest with honor closer to their homes and loved ones,” said Sen. Hoeven. “Our bill is one important way to honor their service, and comes as part of our broader efforts to ensure they receive the recognition and benefits that they have earned through their vital contributions to the security of our nation.”

Introduced in June 2021 by Sen. Hoeven and bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), S. 2089 will make members of the National Guard and Reserve Component eligible for burial in state veterans cemeteries without those cemeteries losing access to federal grants. The identical H.R. 3944 was introduced by U.S. Reps. Chris Pappas (D-NH) and Steven Palazzo (R-MS).

The bill prohibits the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from establishing a condition for a cemetery grant that restricts the ability of a state to inter certain reservists (or their spouses and children) at a state-owned veterans’ cemetery solely because such individuals are ineligible for burial in an open national cemetery, according to the congressional record bill summary. 

The legislation garnered support from the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, the National Guard Association of the United States, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The U.S. Senate approved the measure on March 7 and then the U.S. House of Representatives also passed it last week.