Change Coming to VA Marker Rules
As many of you know, the Veterans Administration revised its rules in 2009, restricting applications for headstones to those who could establish their bonafides as next-of-kin. That caused, naturally, a considerable uproar among various historical and heritage groups, who spend a lot of time researching and placing grave markers.
Via CWT user CMWinkler, the VA has formally proposed broadening the definition of “applicant” to a wider range of family members, and others who are auhtorized to make decisions on behalf of the decedent (PDF). And while they will still require the involvement of family members for veterans of the First World War and later, for earlier service that will be waived in recognition of the fact that, for a great many of them, there are no traceable family members.
This seems like the crucial part of the policy to me, as it regards CW veterans:
We also propose, in Sec. 38.600(a)(1)(iv), to accept applications from individuals who have authority under state or local laws to make final arrangements for decedents. As may be expected, states and localities have varying laws on this topic, and we cannot detail each variation. However, some examples include an individual who is appointed by a county within a state to arrange burial of homeless or indigent individuals, or someone to whom a court of competent jurisdiction has issued an order providing the individual with authority to arrange burial or memorialization. We also include in this group funeral home directors, crematory operators, or those responsible for the operation and maintenance of a cemetery, because their activities are regulated by state or local laws. Any individual who provides documentation of such lawful duty would be eligible to apply for a headstone or marker for an eligible deceased individual.
My emphasis. So as I read this, a heritage group would have to make the request through the cemetery, which pretty much has to be done anyway, in order to get the stone placed. This seems like a step in the right direction.