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Jul 11, 2019

Tester, Boozman Introduce Legislation to Help State Cemeteries Meet Federal Veteran Burial Standards

Bipartisan bill covers travel costs for specialized training for cemetery personnel

(U.S. Senate)- U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.) today introduced legislation to improve access to specialized training that would ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) grant-funded cemeteries meet and maintain the National Cemetery Administration's (NCA) National Shrine Commitment.

The NCA sets standards for maintaining VA national cemeteries. Although state and tribal cemeteries are held to the same benchmarks and measures, they often fall short of meeting the requirements due to a lack of adequate training. While the NCA offers training to state VA cemetery employees at no cost to the state, the VA does not currently cover travel costs for the training of these individuals. The cost of travel prevents some organizations from sending representatives to learn how to uphold VA's high standards.

This legislation adds travel for training as an allowable expense to already existing grant programs established for the maintenance and operation of state and tribal veteran cemeteries.

"We owe it to our veterans and their families to ensure that our state and tribal cemeteries are properly cared for," said Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. "By helping cemetery personnel get the proper, specialized training they need, we are honoring the courageous role men and women played in preserving our freedom and protecting this country."

"Making it easier for cemetery personnel to learn the procedures and nationwide standards is commonsense so we can honor the men and women who served our country in uniform with the tribute they deserve," Boozman said.

To help states and tribal organizations meet the VA's high standard for veteran memorial benefits, NCA's National Training Center (NTC) in St. Louis, Missouri allows state and tribal employees to attend training provided to national cemetery employees. This training allows cemetery employees to learn procedures such as those required for setting headstones and markers in accordance with National Shrine Commitment standards, ensuring proper height and alignment of headstones.

In 2015, the VA awarded Montana's Crow Tribe more than $1.2 million to establish the Apsaalooke Veterans Cemetery in Crow Agency. The grant award was used to fund the construction of a three acre development with over 200 burial spots for Crow veterans and their families.

"I would like to thank Senator Tester, for introducing a bill for much needed training for maintenance of Veterans Cemeteries. Our Apsaalooke Veterans Cemetery would greatly benefit," said Crow Tribe Secretary Rudolph Old Crow.

 

Office Contact Information

Senator Tester's Montana staff serves the state from offices in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. Please bring your concerns with federal agencies, academy nominations, and other situations to one of these Montana offices.

Billings

Judge Jameson Federal Building
2900 4th Ave N, Suite 201
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: (406) 252-0550
Fax: (406) 252-7768

Bozeman

Avant Courier Building
1 E Main Street, Suite 202
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 586-4450
Fax: (406) 586-7647

Butte

Silver Bow Center
125 W Granite, Suite 200
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 723-3277
Fax: (406) 782-4717

Great Falls

119 1st Avenue N, Suite 102
Great Falls, MT 59401
Phone: (406) 452-9585
Fax: (406) 452-9586

Helena

Capital One Center
208 N Montana Avenue, Suite 202
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 449-5401
Fax: (406) 449-5462

Kalispell

8 Third Street E
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 257-3360
Fax: (406) 257-3974

Missoula

130 W Front St.
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003
Fax: (406) 728-2193

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