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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17)

WASHINGTON – Today, bipartisan legislation led by Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) to provide critical relief to surviving families of veterans suffering a loss passed the House of Representatives.

The Burial Rights for America’s Veterans’ Efforts (BRAVE) Act was included in a sweeping package to address benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“We owe our veterans and military families nothing less than the best for their service and sacrifice,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “That’s why I’m pleased to see this bipartisan, commonsense fix to the Veterans Affairs funeral benefits system pass the House today. It’s essential we honor the lives of our veterans properly and prevent military families from facing unfair financial burdens when they lose a loved one.”

Congresswoman Bustos’ billwould upgrade the VA’s reimbursement for the costs of a veteran’s funeral by increasing VA burial benefits for non-service connected deaths that occur at non-VA facilities. Under current law, survivors are penalized based on the circumstances at the time of a veteran’s death. Veterans who die of a non-service connected condition outside of a VA facility are offered just $300 for funeral expenses, while the VA will pay up to $796 toward burial and funeral expenses for non-service connected deaths inside a VA facility. The BRAVE Act would grant parity to survivors by making the benefit the same regardless of where a veteran dies.

The legislative package also addresses veterans’ education programs and benefits, pandemic assistance, disability and life insurance programs, health care programs, homelessness and housing, transition to civilian life services, support for women veterans and financial protections. In May, Congresswoman Bustos, Congressman Adam Kinzinger and Senator Gary Peters wrote to House Leadership encouraging them to include their bipartisan BRAVE Act in the next coronavirus relief package.

You can lead the lawmakers’ letter here.