Legislation sponsored by Rep. Wendi Thomas (R-Bucks) to increase the amount of the benefit provided to those who perform burials with military honors for interred veterans at any one of the three national cemeteries in Pennsylvania is headed to the governor for his signature.
“We owe our veterans so much for their sacrifices that we must ensure they get the proper military burial at our national cemeteries,” said Thomas.
Currently, the Military Affairs section of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs provides $150 per day to the veterans groups that provide these burial details, an amount established in 1998.
House Bill 1421 would increase the provision to $250 per day.
“It is the least we can offer,” Thomas said.
Washington Crossing National Cemetery, which is in Thomas’ district, has the Guardians of the National Cemetery, a volunteer veterans group of 68 active members who spend five days a week at the cemetery rendering funeral honors for up to 10 burials a day.
“Regardless of where and what manner our brothers and sisters served in the military, a familiar phrase many have heard rings true: ‘all sacrificed some, some sacrificed all,’” said Robert E. Craven, president, Guardians of the National Cemetery Foundation. “All who served honorably have earned the privilege of the rendering of military funeral honors. House Bill 1421 will ensure that all veterans continue to have that opportunity moving forward at the three national cemeteries in Pennsylvania.”
“They do this in the heat of summer and cold of winter,” Thomas said. “And they are all volunteers.”
The per day allowance helps cover uniforms and equipment needed as they honor deceased veterans.
House Bill 1421 also became a vehicle for the General Assembly’s Fiscal Code, which is necessary to enact the spending and taxing for the new budget.