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Some veterans could be barred from being buried with their spouses under new rule

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The Department of Veterans Affairs has proposed a rule change allowing families of deceased veterans to choose between burial in a national cemetery or receiving an urn and plaque.

Critics, including the National Funeral Directors Association, argue that the rule presents a “false choice” and could prevent spouses from being buried together.

The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs and other groups suggest allowing cremated veterans’ spouses to be buried in a national cemetery regardless of the urn benefit.

The National Funeral Directors Association wrote in a statement, “We understand that double-dipping benefits (receiving the urn benefit and then the burial plot benefit) is prohibited.”

“However, a veteran and his/her spouse are both entitled to distinct burial benefits. So, while a veteran who receives an urn is no longer eligible for additional benefits like burial, the spouse still has several final disposition benefits to choose from, including ground burial,” their statement continued.

The VA defends the proposal, stating that a 2020 law mandates providing plaques and urns to families who opt out of interment, prohibiting burial in a VA national cemetery.

VA Press Secretary Terrence Hayes said, “Under this law, veterans who receive a commemorative plaque or urn are prohibited from being interred in a VA national cemetery or provided a government headstone, marker or medallion in any cemetery.”

“VA’s proposed regulation is following the law as enacted,” affirmed the VA Press Secretary.

“VA values the opinion and feedback we receive from our partners and always reviews and analyzes comments on proposed rules before publishing a final rule,” Hayes continued.

He concluded, “As always, we will do everything in our power to make sure that veterans and their families have a clear and full understanding of their burial and memorial options at VA — without confusion or surprises — so we can provide them with honors that they deserve.”

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