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Bill Could Provide Plaques and Urns for Veterans

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Three House members have introduced a bill that could help a U.S. military veteran who uses a body disposition option other than a cemetery burial.

H.R. 5639, the “Chuck Osier Burial Benefits Act” bill, would provide a free urn or plaque for an eligible veteran who used cremation, a burial at sea, or another alternative to inhumation in a cemetery.

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Under current law, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides a kind of preneed memorial benefit.

Veterans Affairs gives free headstones or grave markers to veterans who are interred in a cemetery, and who have received any kind of discharge other than a dishonorable discharge, according to a department guide to veterans burial and memorial benefits.

H.R. 5639 would make an urn or plaque available for any veteran, upon the request of the family, who would be eligible for a headstone for a traditional cemetery burial but was using another body disposition option, according to the text of the bill.

The new benefit would make the free plaques and urns available to veterans who will be using, or have used, nontraditional body disposition options and who served on or after April 6, 1917, according to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of H.R. 5639.

CBO analysts estimate that about 45,000 veterans would use the new benefit in 2021, and that about 56,000 veterans would use the benefit in 2030.

The analysts predict that about half of the veterans would use urns and half would use plaques, with urns costing an average of $171 each and plaques costing an average of $57 each.

Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-N.Y., sponsored the bill.

The two cosponsors are Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., and Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.

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