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Submission For The Record of Mr. Brian Lawrence, Disabled American Veterans, Assistant National Legislative Director

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee: 

I am pleased to submit for the record, the views of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) on the various bills under consideration today. In accordance with its congressional charter, the DAV legislative mission is focused on benefits and services provided to veterans on account of their service-connected disabilities. We are therefore pleased to support the bills insofar as they fall within that scope. The DAV has no mandate from its membership on issues addressed within H.R.674, H.R. 1273, H.R. 1900, H.R. 1901, and H.R. 2346, but we have no objection to their favorable consideration.

H.R. 2696

The Veterans’ Dignified Burial Assistance Act of 2007 would increase plot or interment allowance from $300 to $400, for veterans interred in cemeteries other than national cemeteries. Overall, H.R. 2696 is beneficial as it helps to ensure, as its title implies, that veterans have access to a dignified burial that provides the level of honor they deserve. However, a concern arises regarding the provision that allows VA to make grants to States for the operation and maintenance of State veterans’ cemeteries. While this provision appears favorable because it would make more burial space available for veterans, the DAV wants to ensure that it would not have the unintended consequence of creating competition between State and National cemetery programs for funding. Should such certainty be made, we would welcome the provision. Lastly, along with the proposed increase for the burial plot allowance, the DAV would encourage the Committee to consider legislation to provide for automatic annual adjustments to the burial plot allowance indexed to the rise in the cost of living. During the most recent DAV National Convention, our members voted to again adopt a long standing resolution calling for an increase for burial allowance, which seems worthy of mention considering the objective of this commendable legislation. This bill is consistent with the recommendation of the The Independent Budget (IB) on this issue. The IB is a budget and policy document that sets forth the collective views of the DAV, AMVETS, the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW).

H.R. 2697

This legislation would expand eligibility for veterans’ mortgage life insurance to include members of the Armed Forces receiving specially adapted housing assistance from the VA. Because this bill would provide additional coverage for severely disabled veterans who have sacrificed so much on behalf of the security of their fellow citizens, the DAV supports this commendable legislation.

We appreciate the Committee’s interest in these issues, and we appreciate the opportunity to present the DAV’s views, which we hope will be helpful.