A reader asks about spousal burial benefits

Dear Sgt. Shaft,

A quick question. If the spouse of a service member dies before the veteran, would they be allowed to be buried in a national cemetery (in this case Miramar MCAS)?

Christine B
Via the internet

Dear Christine,

Those in the know at the VA tell me yes.

Shaft Notes

• The National Purple Heart Day will be celebrated at Mount Vernon, Virginia, home of General George Washington. The overarching goals of this event are to honor George Washington and his Badge of Military Merit which became today’s Purple Heart Medal, to recognize recipients of the Purple Heart Medal, and to educate the public about Mount Vernon, General Washington and what it means to be awarded the Purple Heart Medal. This event is open to the public.

The ceremony will commence in the Robert H. & Clarice Smith Auditorium at 1:00 p.m. with pre-ceremony music provided by the Military District of Washington. Following the pre-ceremony music, the Color Guard will Post the Colors and the musicians will play the National Anthem.

The ceremony will include representatives from The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, the National Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), and the Department of Virginia MOPH. Our Guest Speaker (invited) is Captain Paul Bucha, US Army, Retired, a recipient of the Medal of Honor and the Purple Heart Medal.

Immediately after the ceremony inside the Smith Auditorium the group will be invited to proceed to the Purple Heart Memorial for the wreath-laying ceremony. Following remarks and the wreath-laying, the finale will be Posting of the Colors followed by the playing of TAPS.

• The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is demanding that Congress immediately pass a compromise bill to help fix the Department of Veterans Affairs before they adjourn for five weeks at the end of the month.

On Monday, delegates attending the VFW's 115th National Convention here unanimously passed resolution 632 that calls on Congress to immediately pass a compromise bill that would provide necessary resources, reduce appointment waiting times, and provide veterans timely access to quality VA health care they have earned and deserve. The House of Representatives and Senate passed different versions of the VA Access and Accountability Act last month, but a conference committee formed to negotiate the two bills into one has stalled because of a debate over the bill’s final cost.

“Pass a bill or don’t come back from recess,” said VFW National Commander William A. Thien, of Georgetown, Ind. “America’s veterans are tired of waiting — on secret waiting lists at the VA and on their elected officials to do their jobs.”

“Meanwhile, veterans continue to wait, the system remains broken, and very few employees who are responsible for this nationwide crisis in care and confidence have been held accountable,” said Thien, who is now demanding that Congress pass a compromise bill before they recess for the summer.

“The VA must identify and fix what’s broken, must hold employees appropriately accountable to the maximum extent of the law, and must do everything possible to restore the faith of veterans in their VA, but Congress is blocking the way by their failure to reach a compromise,” he said. “If Congress goes on recess without passing this legislation, the VFW will work hard with all veterans and the American public to hold every member of Congress fully accountable for failing America’s veterans.”

• The 2014 Warrior-Family Symposium (WFS) is Wednesday, Sept. 10, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. The event, “Transitioning Forward: Warriors, Military Families and Civilian Communities,” will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., (registration opens at 7:30 a.m.) and co hosted by the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) and the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA). USAA is the Executive Sponsor of the event.

The WFS will provide a forum for governmental and non-governmental organizations to explore and address the matters and needs that currently serving personnel and veterans and their children, spouses and caregivers face when tackling the transition from the military into a civilian environment while managing challenges of combat/operational stress, mental health or behavioral health care concerns.

Three panels and workshops will focus on:

  • Managing reintegration from the military to civilian community, highlighting what works.
  • The needs and impact on military children and families dealing with mental health concerns in the home and why this matters to every community.
  • Tools for navigating a smoother transition in terms of how veterans, military families and children can better manage the challenges associated with combat/operational stress and PTS, before and during reintegration.

Registration is free and includes lunch. The morning and afternoon panels are

  • “Life at Home: Tackling Education, Employment and Justice”
  • “Behavioral Health: Why Military Children and Families Matter in a Civilian Community (Moderated by Lee Woodruff, cofounder, Bob Woodruff Foundation; author of New York Times bestseller, In an Instant: A Family’s Journey of Love and Healing)
  • “Paths for Achieving Readiness for Tomorrow” (Moderated by Derek McGinty, weekday anchor, WUSA 9 News, and weeknight co-anchor, WUSA 9 News)

    To register and view the complete event agenda with a full speaker list, please visit www.moaa.org/wfs.

Who Should Attend:  administration, congressional, DoD, military service departments, VA, Department of Labor, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and other governmental and non-governmental leaders and staff members; servicemembers and veterans; military families’ caregivers; educators; justice-involved veteran professionals and volunteers; medical and nonmedical professionals; lawmakers; industry and community leaders; and other interested organizations and individuals.

MEDIA NOTE: All media attendees interested in covering the event can register by emailing pr@moaa.org; include your name, outlet, email, and phone number. There will be a media check-in at the event.

Speakers, panelists and leaders of MOAA and NDIA will be available for interviews.

Follow the discussion on Twitter with #WFS2014.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330, call 202/257-5446 or email sgtshaft@bavf.org.