By Bill Parry
New York state will reimburse congressionally chartered veterans organizations that provide funeral and burial services for indigent military veterans under legislation signed Dec. 23 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Previously, the allocation for the funeral of a veteran with no next of kin and insufficient funds to pay for a funeral was capped at $900.
The bill’s sponsor, state Assemblyman Michael DenDekker (D-East Elmhurst), cited cases in New York City where the caskets of poor veterans broke apart when pallbearers moved them during cemetery burial services. The new law, which takes effect in three months, will double the reimbursement amount to $2,000.
“The increased allocation for funeral costs for indigent veterans was long overdue,” DenDekker said. “The previous allocation of $900 did not keep up with rising funeral costs and simply did not allow these men and women to be buried with the dignity they deserve.”
The new law comes after the Legislature included an additional $250,000 in the 2015 New York state budget to reimburse the American Legion of New York for indigent burial costs they had incurred in excess of the $900 allocation. The House Committee on Veterans Affairs lists 46 chartered groups nationally, including Disabled American Veterans and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “These are people who bravely served their country and we owe them a proper burial,” DenDekker said.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr