Bergman's Bipartisan Bill to Expand Burial Benefit for Veterans Passes House

Today, "Gerald's Law", a bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Jack Bergman (MI-01) and Rep. Colin Allred (TX-32) passed the House of Representatives as part of a package of bipartisan bills included in H.R. 1669, the VET-TEC Authorization Act. Gerald’s Law, originally introduced as H.R. 234, will close a loophole that denies certain terminally ill Veterans their VA burial allowance if they do not pass away at a VA facility.

The dire need for a solution to this problem was underscored for Rep. Bergman by Denise Formolo, the Veterans Service Officer for Dickinson County, who shared the story of a constituent Veteran named Gerald “Jerry” Elliott and his surviving family who were subjected to this terrible situation.

Currently, the “Non-Service Connected Burial and Plot” benefit from the VA will only cover up to nearly $800 in burial and funeral expenses for the surviving family of a Veteran if they are hospitalized at the VA at their time of death. Forcing a Veteran to give up their benefit if they wish to pass away in the comfort of their own home and surrounded by loved ones is wrongful.

Rep. Bergman’s bill will expand the eligibility for this VA benefit, permitting terminally ill Veterans that were discharged from a VA hospital or nursing home to pass comfortably at home under hospice care without fear of losing the allowance for their families.

“It's heartening to see the expansive support 'Gerald's Law' received across party lines as it passed the House today, because this is not a partisan issue. When a Veteran who has fought for our freedom is denied any benefit for themselves or their family, Congress must rally together as we did today to fix that. I'm proud to see this bill pass and for progress to be made in ensuring that no Veteran will ever have to sacrifice the benefits they've earned through the blood, sweat, and tears they've poured out for our Nation" Rep. Bergman said.

JoAnne Elliott, wife of Gerald Elliott, noted, “Jerry considered it an honor to volunteer at the Oscar Johnson VA, Iron Mountain, MI, and, as a member, through the American Legion Post 363, Kingsford, MI, for many years.  The Elliott family appreciates his recognition on the bill which will enhance benefits to our cherished veterans.”

You can read the full text of the bill here and watch Rep. Bergman's speech on the bill's passage here.

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