Late yesterday, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee announced the Burial Rights for America’s Veteran Efforts (BRAVE) Act (H.R. 497/S. 597) has been included in the Veterans Benefits Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2020 (S. 4511/H.R. 9752). Passage of this benefits package by the Committee clears the bill for a vote by the full Senate. This is a significant move forward for the BRAVE Act. NFDA will continue to work with the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and leadership to pass the bill before the end of the year. NFDA will also continue to work with the bill’s champions and leadership in the House to ensure it is considered on the floor.

“On behalf of the more than 20,000 members of the National Funeral Directors Association, I would like to thank Sens. Gary Peters and Marco Rubio for introducing the BRAVE Act and Sens. Jerry Moran and Jon Tester – and the entire Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee – for including it in the Veteran Benefits Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2020,” said NFDA CEO Christine Pepper, CAE. “We applaud their commitment to our nation’s veterans and ensuring they receive equitable treatment and respect when they die.

“As a funeral director who serves the families of veterans, I cannot express how delighted I am to see the BRAVE Act included as part of a larger benefits package for our nation’s heroes,” said NFDA President R. Bryant Hightower Jr. “This crucial step means that families will be able to lay their veteran to rest with the dignity befitting their sacrifice. I urge the full Senate to pass this bill and for the House to do the same. The veterans who gave of themselves deserve nothing less than our full support.”

The Veterans Benefits Enhancement and Expansion Act will improve benefits for burial, education, pensions, compensation and other vital services veterans have earned; cut down on the increasing backlog of disability compensation and pension exams; and expand wartime benefits for certain Vietnam veterans.

Specifically, with regard to burial benefits, the bill will ensure all non-service-connected deaths are treated equally, regardless of where an eligible veteran dies, and ensures benefits for non-service-connected deaths are indexed for inflation, alleviating the need for further adjustments from Congress.

In 2018, during testimony before the Senate Veterans Committee, bill sponsor Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) stressed that veterans’ burial benefits have not kept up with inflation and the cost of funerals and burials: “Our brave men and women in uniform have sacrificed so much in defense of our nation. We owe it to them to ensure they receive the benefits that they have earned through their service, including a dignified burial … I believe we should honor our nation’s heroes by making commonsense updates to VA burial benefits – ensuring every veteran has a proper funeral and burial, no matter the circumstances at the end of their lives.”

The BRAVE Act received endorsements from the Department of Veterans Affairs and numerous veterans’ service organizations, including The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Military Officers Association of America, Vietnam Veterans of America, Association of the United States Navy and the Disable American Veterans.


NFDA is the world’s leading and largest funeral service association, serving more than 20,000 individual members who represent nearly 11,000 funeral homes in the United States and 49 countries around the world. NFDA is the trusted leader, beacon for ethics and the strongest advocate for the profession. NFDA is the association of choice because it offers funeral professionals comprehensive educational resources, tools to manage successful businesses, guidance to become pillars in their communities and the expertise to foster future generations of funeral professionals. NFDA is headquartered in Brookfield, Wis., and has an office in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.nfda.org