Congressman Donald Norcross

Representing the 1st District of New Jersey
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N.J. lawmaker moves to help veterans get headstones for spouses

May 25, 2015
In The News By Jonathan D. Salant

When a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces passes away, the Veterans Affairs Department provides a headstone at no cost. But should a spouse die first, the VA won't provide a headstone unless the couple is going to be buried in a national, state veterans or military base cemetery. That means that a spouse who predeceases a veteran and is buried in a private cemetery will lie in an unmarked grave unless the vet pays for a marker.

In time for Memorial Day, U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1st Dist.) has introduced legislation to change the practice. His bill would provide a VA-issued headstone when either the veteran or the spouse dies, no matter who passed away first or where they chose to be buried. "Dealing with the death of a loved one can be stressful enough," Norcross said. "Having to pay thousands of dollars on a temporary marker or risk the grave site going unmarked due to a technicality in the law is not how we should treat those who fought for our freedom."