< Back to S. 3202 (112th Congress, 2011–2013)

Text of the Dignified Burial and Other Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2012

This bill was enacted after being signed by the President on January 10, 2013. The text of the bill below is as of Dec 30, 2012 (Passed Congress/Enrolled Bill).

Source: GPO

One Hundred Twelfth Congress of the United States of America

2d Session

S. 3202

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

AN ACT

To amend title 38, United States Code, to ensure that deceased veterans with no known next of kin can receive a dignified burial, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title; table of contents

(a)

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Dignified Burial and Other Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 2012.

(b)

Table of contents

The table of contents for this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Scoring of budgetary effects.

TITLE I—Cemetery matters

Sec. 101. Furnishing caskets and urns for deceased veterans with no known next of kin.

Sec. 102. Veterans freedom of conscience protection.

Sec. 103. Improved communication between Department of Veterans Affairs and medical examiners and funeral directors.

Sec. 104. Identification and burial of unclaimed or abandoned human remains.

Sec. 105. Exclusion of persons convicted of committing certain sex offenses from interment or memorialization in national cemeteries, Arlington National Cemetery, and certain State veterans’ cemeteries and from receiving certain funeral honors.

Sec. 106. Restoration, operation, and maintenance of Clark Veterans Cemetery by American Battle Monuments Commission.

Sec. 107. Report on compliance of Department of Veterans Affairs with industry standards for caskets and urns.

TITLE II—Health care

Sec. 201. Establishment of open burn pit registry.

Sec. 202. Transportation of beneficiaries to and from facilities of Department of Veterans Affairs.

Sec. 203. Extension of reduced pension for certain veterans covered by medicaid plans for services furnished by nursing facilities.

Sec. 204. Extension of report requirement for Special Committee on Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder.

TITLE III—Other matters

Sec. 301. Off-base transition training for veterans and their spouses.

Sec. 302. Requirement that judges on United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims reside within 50 miles of District of Columbia.

Sec. 303. Designation of Trinka Davis Veterans Village.

Sec. 304. Designation of William Bill Kling Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic.

Sec. 305. Designation of Mann-Grandstaff Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Sec. 306. Designation of David F. Winder Department of Veterans Affairs Community Based Outpatient Clinic.

2.

Scoring of budgetary effects

The budgetary effects of this Act, for the purpose of complying with the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go-Act of 2010, shall be determined by reference to the latest statement titled Budgetary Effects of PAYGO Legislation for this Act, submitted for printing in the Congressional Record by the Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, provided that such statement has been submitted prior to the vote on passage.

I

Cemetery matters

101.

Furnishing caskets and urns for deceased veterans with no known next of kin

(a)

In general

Section 2306 of title 38, United States Code, is amended—

(1)

by redesignating subsections (f) and (g) as subsections (g) and (h), respectively;

(2)

by inserting after subsection (e) the following new subsection (f):

(f)

The Secretary may furnish a casket or urn, of such quality as the Secretary considers appropriate for a dignified burial, for burial in a national cemetery of a deceased veteran in any case in which the Secretary—

(1)

is unable to identify the veteran's next of kin, if any; and

(2)

determines that sufficient resources for the furnishing of a casket or urn for the burial of the veteran in a national cemetery are not otherwise available.

; and

(3)

in subsection (h), as redesignated by paragraph (1), by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(4)

A casket or urn may not be furnished under subsection (f) for burial of a person described in section 2411(b) of this title.

.

(b)

Effective date

Subsections (f) and (h)(4) of section 2306 of title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a), shall take effect on the date that is one year after the date of the enactment of this Act and shall apply with respect to deaths occurring on or after the date that is one year after the date of the enactment of this Act.

102.

Veterans freedom of conscience protection

(a)

In general

Section 2404 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

(h)
(1)

With respect to the interment or funeral, memorial service, or ceremony of a deceased veteran at a national cemetery, the Secretary shall ensure that—

(A)

the expressed wishes of the next of kin or other agent of the deceased veteran are respected and given appropriate deference when evaluating whether the proposed interment or funeral, memorial service, or ceremony affects the safety and security of the national cemetery and visitors to the cemetery;

(B)

to the extent possible, all appropriate public areas of the cemetery, including committal shelters, chapels, and benches, may be used by the family of the deceased veteran for contemplation, prayer, mourning, or reflection; and

(C)

during such interment or funeral, memorial service, or ceremony, the family of the deceased veteran may display any religious or other symbols chosen by the family.

(2)

Subject to regulations prescribed by the Secretary under paragraph (4), including such regulations ensuring the security of a national cemetery, the Secretary shall, to the maximum extent practicable, provide to any military or volunteer veterans honor guard, including such guards belonging to a veterans service organization or other nongovernmental group that provides services to veterans, access to public areas of a national cemetery if such access is requested by the next of kin or other agent of a deceased veteran whose interment or funeral, memorial service, or ceremony is being held in such cemetery.

(3)

With respect to the interment or funeral, memorial service, or ceremony of a deceased veteran at a national cemetery, the Secretary shall notify the next of kin or other agent of the deceased veteran of funeral honors available to the deceased veteran, including such honors provided by any military or volunteer veterans honor guard described in paragraph (2).

(4)

The Secretary shall prescribe regulations to carry out this subsection.

.

(b)

Interim implementation

The Secretary may carry out paragraphs (1) through (3) of section 2404(h) of such title, as added by subsection (a), before the Secretary prescribes regulations pursuant to paragraph (4) of such section, as so added.

(c)

Report

Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on the implementation of section 2404(h) of such title, as added by subsection (a). Such report shall include a certification of whether the Secretary is in compliance with all of the provisions of such section.

103.

Improved communication between Department of Veterans Affairs and medical examiners and funeral directors

(a)

In general

Chapter 24 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

2414.

Communication between Department of Veterans Affairs and medical examiners and funeral directors

(a)

Required information

With respect to each deceased veteran described in subsection (b) who is transported to a national cemetery for burial, the Secretary shall ensure that the local medical examiner, funeral director, county service group, or other entity responsible for the body of the deceased veteran before such transportation submits to the Secretary the following information:

(1)

Whether the deceased veteran was cremated.

(2)

The steps taken to ensure that the deceased veteran has no next of kin.

(b)

Deceased veteran described

A deceased veteran described in this subsection is a deceased veteran—

(1)

with respect to whom the Secretary determines that there is no next of kin or other person claiming the body of the deceased veteran; and

(2)

who does not have sufficient resources for the furnishing of a casket or urn for the burial of the deceased veteran in a national cemetery, as determined by the Secretary.

.

(b)

Clerical amendment

The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 2413 the following new item:

2414. Communication between Department of Veterans Affairs and medical examiners and funeral directors.

.

(c)

Effective date

Section 2414 of title 38, United States Code, as added by subsection (a), shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act and shall apply with respect to deaths occurring on or after the date that is 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

104.

Identification and burial of unclaimed or abandoned human remains

(a)

Identification of unclaimed or abandoned human remains

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall cooperate with veterans service organizations to assist entities in possession of unclaimed or abandoned human remains in determining if any such remains are the remains of veterans or other individuals eligible for burial in a national cemetery under the jurisdiction of the Secretary.

(b)

Burial of unclaimed or abandoned human remains

(1)

Funeral expenses

Section 2302(a)(2) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking who was a veteran of any war or was discharged or released from the active military, naval, or air service for a disability incurred or aggravated in line of duty, whose body is held by a State (or a political subdivision of a State), and.

(2)

Transportation costs

Section 2308 of such title is amended—

(A)

by striking Where a veteran and all that follows through compensation, the and inserting (a) In general.—The;

(B)

in subsection (a), as designated by subparagraph (A), by inserting described in subsection (b) after of the deceased veteran; and

(C)

by adding at the end the following new subsection:

(b)

Deceased veteran described

A deceased veteran described in this subsection is any of the following veterans:

(1)

A veteran who dies as the result of a service-connected disability.

(2)

A veteran who dies while in receipt of disability compensation (or who but for the receipt of retirement pay or pension under this title, would have been entitled to compensation).

(3)

A veteran whom the Secretary determines is eligible for funeral expenses under section 2302 of this title by virtue of the Secretary determining that the veteran has no next of kin or other person claiming the body of such veteran pursuant to subsection (a)(2)(A) of such section.

.

(3)

Effective date

The amendments made by this subsection shall take effect on the date that is one year after the date of the enactment of this Act and shall apply with respect to burials and funerals occurring on or after the date that is one year after the date of the enactment of this Act.

105.

Exclusion of persons convicted of committing certain sex offenses from interment or memorialization in national cemeteries, Arlington National Cemetery, and certain State veterans’ cemeteries and from receiving certain funeral honors

(a)

Prohibition Against

Section 2411(b) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

(4)

A person—

(A)

who has been convicted of a Federal or State crime causing the person to be a tier III sex offender for purposes of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (42 U.S.C. 16901 et seq.);

(B)

who, for such crime, is sentenced to a minimum of life imprisonment; and

(C)

whose conviction is final (other than a person whose sentence was commuted by the President or Governor of a State, as the case may be).

.

(b)

Conforming amendments

Section 2411(a)(2) of such title is amended—

(1)

by striking or (b)(2) each place it appears and inserting , (b)(2), or (b)(4); and

(2)

by striking capital each place it appears.

(c)

Effective Date

The amendments made by this section shall apply with respect to interments and memorializations that occur on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

106.

Restoration, operation, and maintenance of Clark Veterans Cemetery by American Battle Monuments Commission

(a)

In general

After an agreement is made between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the United States Government, Clark Veterans Cemetery in the Republic of the Philippines shall be treated, for purposes of section 2104 of title 36, United States Code, as a cemetery for which it was decided under such section that the cemetery will become a permanent cemetery and the American Battle Monuments Commission shall restore, operate, and maintain Clark Veterans Cemetery (to the degree the Commission considers appropriate) under such section in cooperation with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines.

(b)

Limitation on future burials

Burials at the cemetery described in subsection (a) after the date of the agreement described in such subsection shall be limited to eligible veterans, as determined by the Commission, whose burial does not incur any cost to the Commission.

(c)

Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated to the Commission—

(1)

$5,000,000 for site preparation, design, planning, construction, and associated administrative costs for the restoration of the cemetery described in subsection (a); and

(2)

amounts necessary to operate and maintain the cemetery described in subsection (a).

107.

Report on compliance of Department of Veterans Affairs with industry standards for caskets and urns

(a)

In general

Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the Senate and the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the House of Representatives a report on the compliance of the Department of Veterans Affairs with industry standards for caskets and urns.

(b)

Elements

The report required by subsection (a) shall include the following:

(1)

A description of industry standards for caskets and urns.

(2)

An assessment of compliance with such standards at national cemeteries administered by the Department with respect to caskets and urns used for the interment of those eligible for burial at such cemeteries.

II

Health care

201.

Establishment of open burn pit registry

(a)

Establishment of registry

(1)

In general

Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall—

(A)

establish and maintain an open burn pit registry for eligible individuals who may have been exposed to toxic airborne chemicals and fumes caused by open burn pits;

(B)

include any information in such registry that the Secretary of Veterans Affairs determines necessary to ascertain and monitor the health effects of the exposure of members of the Armed Forces to toxic airborne chemicals and fumes caused by open burn pits;

(C)

develop a public information campaign to inform eligible individuals about the open burn pit registry, including how to register and the benefits of registering; and

(D)

periodically notify eligible individuals of significant developments in the study and treatment of conditions associated with exposure to toxic airborne chemicals and fumes caused by open burn pits.

(2)

Coordination

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall coordinate with the Secretary of Defense in carrying out paragraph (1).

(b)

Report to Congress

(1)

Reports by independent scientific organization

The Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall enter into an agreement with an independent scientific organization to prepare reports as follows:

(A)

Not later than two years after the date on which the registry under subsection (a) is established, an initial report containing the following:

(i)

An assessment of the effectiveness of actions taken by the Secretaries to collect and maintain information on the health effects of exposure to toxic airborne chemicals and fumes caused by open burn pits.

(ii)

Recommendations to improve the collection and maintenance of such information.

(iii)

Using established and previously published epidemiological studies, recommendations regarding the most effective and prudent means of addressing the medical needs of eligible individuals with respect to conditions that are likely to result from exposure to open burn pits.

(B)

Not later than five years after completing the initial report described in subparagraph (A), a follow-up report containing the following:

(i)

An update to the initial report described in subparagraph (A).

(ii)

An assessment of whether and to what degree the content of the registry established under subsection (a) is current and scientifically up-to-date.

(2)

Submittal to Congress

(A)

Initial report

Not later than two years after the date on which the registry under subsection (a) is established, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to Congress the initial report prepared under paragraph (1)(A).

(B)

Follow-up report

Not later than five years after submitting the report under subparagraph (A), the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall submit to Congress the follow-up report prepared under paragraph (1)(B).

(c)

Definitions

In this section:

(1)

Eligible individual

The term eligible individual means any individual who, on or after September 11, 2001—

(A)

was deployed in support of a contingency operation while serving in the Armed Forces; and

(B)

during such deployment, was based or stationed at a location where an open burn pit was used.

(2)

Open burn pit

The term open burn pit means an area of land located in Afghanistan or Iraq that—

(A)

is designated by the Secretary of Defense to be used for disposing solid waste by burning in the outdoor air; and

(B)

does not contain a commercially manufactured incinerator or other equipment specifically designed and manufactured for the burning of solid waste.

202.

Transportation of beneficiaries to and from facilities of Department of Veterans Affairs

(a)

In general

Chapter 1 of title 38, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 111 the following new section:

111A.

Transportation of individuals to and from Department facilities

(a)

Transportation by Secretary

(1)

The Secretary may transport any person to or from a Department facility or other place in connection with vocational rehabilitation, counseling required by the Secretary pursuant to chapter 34 or 35 of this title, or for the purpose of examination, treatment, or care.

(2)

The authority granted by paragraph (1) shall expire on the date that is one year after the date of the enactment of this section.

.

(b)

Conforming amendment

Subsection (h) of section 111 of such title is—

(1)

transferred to section 111A of such title, as added by subsection (a);

(2)

redesignated as subsection (b);

(3)

inserted after subsection (a) of such section; and

(4)

amended by inserting Transportation by third-parties.— before The Secretary.

(c)

Clerical amendment

The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 1 of such title is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 111 the following new item:

111A. Transportation of individuals to and from Department facilities.

.

203.

Extension of reduced pension for certain veterans covered by medicaid plans for services furnished by nursing facilities

Section 5503(d)(7) of title 38, United States Code, is amended by striking September 30, 2016 and inserting November 30, 2016.

204.

Extension of report requirement for Special Committee on Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder

Section 110(e)(2) of the Veterans' Health Care Act of 1984 (Public Law 98–528; 38 U.S.C. 1712A note) is amended by striking through 2012 and inserting through 2016.

III

Other matters

301.

Off-base transition training for veterans and their spouses

(a)

Provision of off-base transition training

During the two-year period beginning on the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Labor shall provide the Transition Assistance Program under section 1144 of title 10, United States Code, to eligible individuals at locations other than military installations to assess the feasibility and advisability of providing such program to eligible individuals at locations other than military installations.

(b)

Eligible individuals

For purposes of this section, an eligible individual is a veteran or the spouse of a veteran.

(c)

Locations

(1)

Number of States

The Secretary shall carry out the training under subsection (a) in not less than three and not more than five States selected by the Secretary for purposes of this section.

(2)

Selection of States with high unemployment

Of the States selected by the Secretary under paragraph (1), at least two shall be States with high rates of unemployment among veterans.

(3)

Number of locations in each State

The Secretary shall provide training under subsection (a) to eligible individuals at a sufficient number of locations within each State selected under this subsection to meet the needs of eligible individuals in such State.

(4)

Selection of locations

The Secretary shall select locations for the provision of training under subsection (a) to facilitate access by participants and may not select any location on a military installation other than a National Guard or reserve facility that is not located on an active duty military installation.

(d)

Inclusion of information about veterans benefits

The Secretary shall ensure that the training provided under subsection (a) generally follows the content of the Transition Assistance Program under section 1144 of title 10, United States Code.

(e)

Annual report

Not later than March 1 of any year during which the Secretary provides training under subsection (a), the Secretary shall submit to Congress a report on the provision of such training.

(f)

Comptroller General report

Not later than 180 days after the termination of the one-year period described in subsection (a), the Comptroller General of the United States shall submit to Congress a report on the training provided under such subsection. The report shall include the evaluation of the Comptroller General regarding the feasibility and advisability of carrying out off-base transition training at locations nationwide.

302.

Requirement that judges on United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims reside within 50 miles of District of Columbia

(a)

Residency requirement

(1)

In general

Section 7255 is amended to read as follows:

7255.

Offices, duty stations, and residences

(a)

Principal office

The principal office of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims shall be in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, but the Court may sit at any place within the United States.

(b)

Official duty stations

(1)

Except as provided in paragraph (2), the official duty station of each judge while in active service shall be the principal office of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

(2)

The place where a recall-eligible retired judge maintains the actual abode in which such judge customarily lives shall be considered the recall-eligible retired judge's official duty station.

(c)

Residences

(1)

Except as provided in paragraph (2), after appointment and while in active service, each judge of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims shall reside within 50 miles of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

(2)

Paragraph (1) shall not apply to recall-eligible retired judges of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

.

(2)

Clerical amendment

The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 72 is amended by striking the item relating to section 7255 and inserting the following new item:

7255. Offices, duty stations, and residences.

.

(b)

Removal

Section 7253(f)(1) is amended by striking or engaging in the practice of law and inserting engaging in the practice of law, or violating section 7255(c) of this title.

(c)

Effective date

(1)

In general

Subsection (c) of section 7255, as added by subsection (a), and the amendment made by subsection (b) shall take effect on the date that is 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

(2)

Applicability

The amendment made by subsection (b) shall apply with respect to judges confirmed on or after January 1, 2012.

303.

Designation of Trinka Davis Veterans Village

(a)

Designation

The facility of the Department of Veterans Affairs located at 180 Martin Drive in Carrollton, Georgia, shall after the date of the enactment of this Act be known and designated as the Trinka Davis Veterans Village.

(b)

References

Any reference in any law, regulation, map, document, record, or other paper of the United States to the facility referred to in subsection (a) shall be deemed to be a reference to the Trinka Davis Veterans Village.

304.

Designation of William Bill Kling Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic

(a)

Designation

The facility of the Department of Veterans Affairs located at 9800 West Commercial Boulevard in Sunrise, Florida, shall after the date of the enactment of this Act be known and designated as the William Bill Kling Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic.

(b)

References

Any reference in a law, map, regulation, document, paper, or other record of the United States to the facility referred to in subsection (a) shall be deemed to be a reference to the William Bill Kling Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic.

305.

Designation of Mann-Grandstaff Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center

(a)

Designation

The Department of Veterans Affairs medical center in Spokane, Washington, shall after the date of the enactment of this Act be known and designated as the Mann-Grandstaff Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

(b)

References

Any reference in a law, map, regulation, document, paper, or other record of the United States to the Department of Veterans Affairs medical center referred to in subsection (a) shall be deemed to be a reference to the Mann-Grandstaff Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

306.

Designation of David F. Winder Department of Veterans Affairs Community Based Outpatient Clinic

(a)

Designation

The Department of Veterans Affairs community based outpatient clinic located in Mansfield, Ohio, shall after the date of the enactment of this Act be known and designated as the David F. Winder Department of Veterans Affairs Community Based Outpatient Clinic.

(b)

References

Any reference in a law, map, regulation, document, paper, or other record of the United States to the Department of Veterans Affairs community based outpatient clinic referred to in subsection (a) shall be deemed to be a reference to the David F. Winder Department of Veterans Affairs Community Based Outpatient Clinic.

Speaker of the House of Representatives

Vice President of the United States and President of the Senate