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Cotton’s Charles Duncan Buried with Honor Act is Signed Into Law

December 15, 2016

Contact: Caroline Rabbitt (202) 224-2353

Washington, D.C.- Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) released the following statement after the Charles Duncan Buried with Honor Act was signed into law by President Obama yesterday:

"Yesterday, President Obama signed the Charles Duncan Buried with Honor Act into law, giving countless veterans across Arkansas and the United States expanded burial options through the VA. Burying a soldier-young or old-is never easy, but this law will ensure their families and loved ones can experience the comfort and closure of attending their funeral. This bill is an important first step toward fixing bureaucratic inefficiencies at the VA, but it is only the beginning. We must do more to ensure our veterans and their families receive the support and care they deserve. January will bring a new President and a new season of opportunity to fix the Department of Veterans Affairs. I will work tirelessly to make life better for Arkansas's veterans."

Background: Under current law, indigent veterans with no next-of-kin are eligible to reimbursement rates of $2,421 for caskets or $244 for urns when buried in a National Cemetery. However, if the survivors of the veteran need to take advantage of that benefit, the veteran is not eligible for burial in a state cemetery, even if that cemetery is geographically closer to the veteran's home or the homes of their loved ones. The Charles Duncan Veterans Memorial Act amends the Dignified Burial and other Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 2012 (s. 3202) by expanding its scope to include state or tribal cemeteries for which the Department of the VA has provided a grant.

The bill is named for Mr. Charles Duncan of Little Rock, Arkansas, who died last year. Due to financial hardship, Mr. Duncan's family had to rely on the VA for his casket and burial fees, but a small gap in the law meant he was only eligible for burial in Fort Smith, Arkansas, which is over 150 miles from his home. As a result, Mr. Duncan's adult daughter was unable to attend his funeral."