BISHOP FLOOR STATEMENT ON PASSAGE OF VETERANS CEMETERY BENEFIT CORRECTION ACT
May 8, 2018
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) delivered the following statement yesterday evening on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives encouraging the passage of the Veterans Cemetery Benefit Correction Act (H.R. 4910).
The legislation, which he introduced with Congressman Austin Scott (GA-08) on January 30, 2018, seeks to correct a technical error that limits access to burial benefits for veterans buried in cemeteries under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, instead of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Following Congressman Bishop’s statement, the legislation was approved by the full U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 388 to 0.
Below is Congressman Bishop’s full statement as prepared:
Mr. Bishop of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to encourage my colleagues to support H.R. 4910, the Veterans Cemetery Benefit Correction Act. I joined my fellow Georgia Congressman Austin Scott to introduce this bipartisan legislation to ensure our veteran families receive the benefits that they have earned.
The Andersonville Cemetery, which is one of the two remaining National Park Service Cemeteries, has a very interesting and unique history. Andersonville was a site of a civil war prisoner of war camp, and interestingly enough, it held prisoners of war for both the Union and the Confederates. Unfortunately, because of the unsanitary conditions, thousands of veterans, both union and confederate, died at Andersonville. And of course, in more recent years, Andersonville has been designated as the National Prisoner of War Memorial for our country, and we erected and funded the National Prisoner of War Museum, which is located on the grounds of Andersonville. The facilities there are controlled fully by the National Park Service.
Currently, when veterans are buried in a federal cemetery outside the jurisdiction of the VA, a number of our veteran’s families are left to pay the burial costs that typically would be afforded to them under most other circumstances.
The current law requires that, when a veteran is buried in a national cemetery under the control of the National Cemetery Administration, the VA will provide an outer burial receptacle – known in other terms as a grave liner – or provide reimbursement to the family for purchase.
However, the current law inexplicably excludes national cemeteries under the control of the National Park Service. The Andersonville National Cemetery, located in my district, is one of the two remaining national cemeteries controlled by the National Park Service. I implore that Congress act to correct this oversight and ensure veterans and their families are provided all the benefits to which they are entitled, not only for my district but for all our veterans and their families who have selflessly served our country.
I applaud Senator Isakson’s successful effort to push this legislation through the Senate under unanimous consent. It is now time for the House to take action. By voting for this legislation, we can fix this oversight and ensure all veterans and their families are provided appropriate benefits at all our federal cemeteries.
With that, I thank the gentleman for the time, and I yield back the balance of my time.