A new bill will improve veterans’ benefits in several areas thanks to an affirmative vote in the House of Representatives late last year.
On December 30, 2012 the House unanimously approved S. 3202, the Dignified Burial and Other Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2012. The bill, which has been in legislative review since its introduction on May 17, 2012, is awaiting President Obama’s signature. It will provide new guidelines and provisions for many types of benefits.
Dignified Burial Benefits
The bill has several provisions slated to provide dignified burial resources for veterans who do not have an identified next of kin to care for their funeral arrangements. Under the new law, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will furnish a casket or urn for the deceased veteran.
In cases where a next of kin is identified, the bill requires the VA to ensure the wishes of that individual are met in regards to type of burial services and interment at a national cemetery. Improvements to communication by medical examiners and funeral directors with the VA will also help ensure that the honor of the deceased veteran is upheld.
Changes are also to come for the handling of unclaimed or abandoned remains of deceased veterans. The VA will be cooperating with veterans’ service organizations to assess the eligibility of unclaimed or abandoned remains for burial in a national cemetery.
Burn Pit Registry for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans
As more Iraq and Afghanistan veterans return from their service, many are seeking veterans’ benefits for disabling conditions related to toxic environmental exposures. Burn pits in the Middle East combat zones may cause Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to suffer from respiratory illnesses and other service-connected diseases. These health conditions are often a factor when these veterans seek VA benefits for disability.
An open burn pit registry is now required to be established by the VA to track the location of open burn pits in the Iraq and Afghanistan combat areas where U.S. soldiers were stationed. The burn pit registry will track the individuals deployed in these areas and help provide them with information regarding the registry’s purpose and how they can seek assistance regarding health concerns.
Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who were stationed near an open burn pit should inquire about the burn pit registry for future reference in regards to their health. Exposure to the toxic fumes from the open burn pits have been found to cause health complications over time. While symptoms may not be present now, all veterans have the right to apply for veterans’ benefits when they believe a disability they suffer from post-service is connected to their active duty in the military.
Ensure You Get Your Rightful Benefits
Whenever changes are made to VA disability benefits you should make sure you are receiving the full scope of that to which you are entitled. At the Law Offices of Veterans Help Group our attorneys are here to help veterans with initial benefit claims or existing cases. Contact our firm today to discuss eligibility for veterans’ benefits or to go over an existing application – 1-855-855-8992.