Rep. Poliquin’s Bill to Ensure VA Headstones For Veterans’ Families Buried in Cemeteries Advances in the House

Today, Congressman Bruce Poliquin had his Veterans bill pass out of committee with unanimous, bipartisan support.

Congressman Poliquin’s legislation would ensure that Veterans’ family members who are buried at tribal Veterans cemeteries—such as the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians Tribal Veterans Cemetery in Aroostook County—are provided government furnished headstones, the same treatment as those buried at national and state Veterans cemeteries.

Congressman Poliquin, who represents the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians and their Tribal Veterans Cemetery in Aroostook County, released the following statement:

“Our Veterans, who served and sacrificed for our Nation and who are now laid to rest in tribal Veterans cemeteries, should have the honor of being buried with their families and all should have access to headstones commemorating their sacrifices,” said Congressman Poliquin. “I’m proud to represent the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, who created the first Tribal Veterans Cemetery not only in Maine, but on the entire East Coast. It is a great honor to serve them and to push forward this commonsense fix so all our Veterans and their families can be properly honored when they are laid to rest. I’m extremely pleased to have the unanimous support of my Republican and Democratic colleagues on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee for this commonsense legislation, and I will continue to push this important bill through Congress and onto the President’s desk.”

Clarissa Sabattis, Chief of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, said when the bill was introduced, “The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians is honored to have the first Tribal Veterans Cemetery, East of the Mississippi. We all know that when a loved one serves in the military, especially when deployed overseas, that the family serves as well. Spouses take on the additional duties and stresses of taking care of their homes, being single parents, raising and comforting their children in times of great stress and ensuring our veterans have a home to return to. Congressman Poliquin’s Bill honors the families and acknowledges the sacrifices made by those who stay behind by providing headstones for the spouses and children of veterans who are buried in tribal cemeteries.”

Under current law, government furnished headstones are only available to Veterans’ eligible spouses and dependents buried in national and state Veterans cemeteries. This bill would authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide headstones and markers to eligible spouses and dependents interred at tribal Veterans cemeteries.