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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Groups seeking to honor veterans' graves fight additional burden

Changes sought for Ohio, Ky. unmarked vets' graves
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
July 19, 2013

CINCINNATI -- Federal policy is preventing some veterans with unmarked graves from getting headstones and tombstones to mark their final resting places, and some supporters of historic cemeteries want that changed.

Supporters in Ohio and Kentucky are among those who want to change a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs policy they say is too restrictive, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

The federal regulation defines "applicant" as the veteran's next of kin, a person authorized in writing by the next of kin or a representative authorized in writing by the veteran. But members of historical groups and those working to preserve Civil War-era cemeteries say the policy wasn't consistently enforced until last year. Some seeking to get markers for veterans' unmarked graves say they've been turned down because they weren't direct descendants, the newspaper said.

A national campaign to change the policy has launched an online petition asking that the VA make the regulation inapplicable to veterans who served more than 62 years ago. The petition collected 1,950 signatures as of Thursday, the newspaper reported.

"This is having an impact all across America," said Jeff Richman, leader of a committee behind the petition. Richman is the historian for Green-Wood Cemetery in a Brooklyn, N.Y. It contains graves of 3,300 Civil War veterans.

Richman said the policy creates an impossible and unnecessary burden for groups seeking to honor veterans who served generations ago.
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