The president recently signed the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and while the bill contains many MOAA-supported provisions designed to protect and expand your earned benefits, it does not contain language that would halt proposed eligibility changes at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC).
The FY 2019 NDAA required a plan to ensure ANC operations would continue “well into the future,” and DoD interpreted this as a directive to reduce eligibility. The draft rule change is pending as part of the federal rulemaking process; if enacted, the hardest hit will be Vietnam and Cold War-era veterans who have planned on this benefit for decades. It was not the original intent of the 2019 NDAA to end this benefit for elderly veterans.
A House Armed Services Committee (HASC) report on this year’s NDAA expresses the committee’s concerns regarding proposed eligibility changes and “directs the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to submit a report to congressional defense committees no later than March 1, 2022, on potential locations of the next national cemetery.”
Legislation is still required for a halt to ANC eligibility changes. The joint DoD-VA report to designate the next national cemetery that will afford full military honors can set the foundation for language in the next NDAA.
While a halt to eligibility changes was not included in the most recent NDAA, it was proposed as a Senate amendment. This issue will require continued advocacy as the HASC report is pending.
Finding a Long-Term Fix
Before ANC was an operational cemetery, servicemembers were buried at what’s now known as the United States Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. When the home was running out of room during the Civil War, ANC was designated as the next location. As ANC reaches capacity, it makes sense to pick the next location rather than end the benefit.
Consider using MOAA’s toll-free line to the U.S. Capitol switchboard – 866-272-MOAA (6622) – to connect with your legislators' offices. Be sure to use your own words and experiences when speaking with staffers and asking for their support. Letters from MOAA and The Military Coalition (TMC) can help guide your conversation.
The coalition, which represents nearly 5.5 million members of the uniformed services community, works to preserve benefits for the uniformed services; MOAA is proud to serve in a leadership role throughout the coalition. As the report to Congress is pending on ANC, MOAA and the coalition will continue to advocate for a long-term solution. You can stay up to date on this and other MOAA advocacy goals at MOAA.org/2022goals.
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