At Tester's request, VA agrees to cover burial costs for several Montana veterans

Families waited to bury their loved ones at new Western Montana Veterans' Cemetery

(BIG SANDY, Mont.) – After a request by Senator Jon Tester, the U.S. Veterans Administration has agreed to cover the costs of several recent burials at the Western Montana Veterans' Cemetery in Missoula.

Usually, if families wait longer than two years to bury the remains of their loved ones, the VA will not pay the burial costs.

But Tester recently asked the VA to make an exception for several Montana families.  The families waited longer than two years in order to lay to rest the remains of their loved ones at the Western Montana Veterans' Cemetery, which opened in October.

U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary James Peake agreed to Tester's request.

"This decision is the right thing to do for folks who've waited so long for this cemetery to open," Tester said.  "The men and women who fought for our country are heroes, and their families shouldn't be penalized for simply waiting for a proper burial place."

Tester is Montana's only member of the Veterans Affairs Committee.

Last year Tester worked closely with Missoula-area veterans to get federal funds released for the cemetery.  The funds were stuck in a bureaucratic logjam at the VA before Tester intervened.      

Peake has worked closely with Tester since becoming VA Secretary.  He visited Montana last February at Tester's request, and recently met with Tester and Montana Lieutenant Governor John Bohlinger in Washington.