The Pennsylvania House of Representatives recently passed legislation authored by Rep. Wendi Thomas (R-Bucks) to increase the amount of the burial benefit provided to those who perform burials with military honors for deceased veterans at any one of the commonwealth’s three national ceremonies.
Currently, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs pays $150 per day to various veterans’ groups that provide for these burial details. The $150-per-day amount was established over 20 years ago in 1998. Thomas’ bill proposes increasing the amount to $250 per day to help account for inflation over the years.
“The $150-per-day amount was established in 1998, 23 years ago. Keeping the rate of inflation in mind, it’s clearly time to increase the provision,” said Thomas. “I believe $250 per day is the least we can offer.”
Speaking to the dedication of those who perform these services, Thomas said, “Washington Crossing National Cemetery is fortunate to have The Guardians of the National Cemetery. This all-volunteer veterans’ group, of 68 active members, spends five days a week at the cemetery rendering funeral honors for up to 10 burials per day. They do this in the scorching heat of summer and the brutal cold of winter. The per-day allowance helps cover the costs for uniforms and equipment needed as they honor our deceased veterans.
“Washington Crossing National Cemetery National Guard also provides unattended military services the last Thursday of every month to honor the veterans who are buried without any family or friends present at the burial.”
In addition, Thomas’ proposal would allow the DMVA to use the services of the PA National Guard to perform these burial functions during times when veterans’ groups are not available to provide the services.
“As the commonwealth has benefitted so much from the sacrifices of the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States, this is the least we can do to ensure a proper military burial at our national cemeteries,” said Thomas.
Thomas’ bill is one of a dozen bills and one resolution called the “For Those Who Served” legislative package aimed at assisting veterans and their families in the commonwealth. The package was unveiled during an event earlier in the day at Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Grove in Harrisburg.
House Bill 1421 now goes to the state Senate for consideration.