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NFDA Wants Action on Bill Addressing Veterans’ Unclaimed Cremated Remains

Posted: May 16, 2014

Earlier this month, NFDA sent a letter to Rep. Bill Shuster expressing its strong support for H.R. 4446, the "Dignified Interment of Our Veterans Act of 2014." This bill would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to investigate the number of veterans' unclaimed cremated remains and assess the VA's ability to claim and inter them. Shuster is the sponsor of H.R. 4446. 

You can learn more about H.R. 4446 here. Following is the text of the letter sent to Shuster:

May 12, 2014

Honorable Bill Shuster
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Shuster:

Established in 1882, the National Funeral Directors Association represents more than 13,000 funeral homes and over 20,000 licensed funeral directors and embalmers in all 50 states and in over 40 countries worldwide. The average NFDA member is an independently owned and operated business with fewer than 10 employees and has been in the same family for over 60 years. NFDA is the leading funeral service organization in the United States and around the world, providing a national and international voice for the profession.

NFDA would like to express our strong support for H.R. 4446, the "Dignified Interment of Our Veterans Act of 2014". H.R. 4446 would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to conduct a study on matters relating to the identification, claiming, and interring of unclaimed remains of veterans, including: (1) estimating the number of unclaimed remains; (2) assessing the effectiveness of the procedures of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for claiming and interring unclaimed remains of veterans; (3) assessing state and local laws that affect the ability of the Secretary to identify, claim, and inter such remains; and (4) recommending appropriate legislative or administrative action.

Last Congress, NFDA supported enactment of legislation to require the VA to work with VSOs and other groups as well as funeral directors to assist in identifying the unclaimed cremated remains of veterans held by funeral homes. Once identified, VA would arrange for those remains to be interred at a national cemetery and provided with appropriate honors if they qualified. H.R. 4446 would require VA to conduct a study to determine how that program was working and make recommendations to improve its effectiveness

In that regard, NFDA strongly supports H.R. 4446 which would insure that the provision of the law regarding the repatriation of unclaimed cremated remains of veterans was properly implemented.

Thank you for considering our comments. Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.

Sincerely,
John H. Fitch, Jr.
Senior Vice President, Advocacy
National Funeral Directors Association