Brookfield, Wis. – After years of support from funeral service, thousands of phone calls and emails from funeral directors, and hundreds of Congressional meetings during the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) Advocacy Summit, today President Donald Trump signed the BRAVE Act into law, assuring equitable funeral and burial benefits for veterans.
“We would not have made it to this stage without the hard work of our members,” said NFDA President R. Bryant Hightower Jr., CFSP. “Whether it was meeting with their members of Congress during the annual Advocacy Summit, making calls or sending emails, our members played a vital role by sharing the stories of veterans they served, building awareness of the BRAVE Act and securing co-sponsors. Their persistence paid off and for that, I say thank you!”
The BRAVE Act updates veteran burial benefits in a manner that treats all non-service-connected deaths equally, regardless of where the veteran dies. Before the BRAVE Act became law, certain veterans who died in a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility were provided greater funds to cover the cost of a funeral than veterans who died in their home or another medical facility – a major inequity that sorely needed to be addressed.
Sponsored by Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Cheri Bustos (D-IL), the BRAVE Act is a big win for both veterans and funeral service.
“I am very proud of NFDA members and others in the funeral profession who advocated for this important legislation,” said Christine Pepper, CAE, CEO of NFDA. “This is why we go to our nation’s capital each year and visit congressional leaders, talking with them face-to-face about changes we want made on behalf of funeral service.”
“Passing legislation in Congress is not easy considering that only about 1% of the bills introduced in the 116th Congress were enacted into law,” Pepper commented. “Nevertheless, our members have been coming to our Advocacy Summit each year in Washington, D.C., and walking the halls of Congress to help get this important bill passed for our veterans. I also want to thank the state associations and state executives for their hard work and support.”
“Being an advocate for funeral service means I choose to get in the game and have a positive impact on our profession,” said NFDA member and Funeral Service Foundation Chair Anthony Guerra from California. “I felt that passing the BRAVE Act was critical for our nation’s veterans and their families, so rather than being a spectator, I wanted to be a participant. And with the passage of this bill, I am walking away gratified and with a sense of accomplishment.”
“As a former Congressional staffer and a funeral director, I know the importance of advocacy,” said NFDA member Cason Hightower from Georgia. “NFDA members have been tireless in advocating for passage of the BRAVE Act. I have witnessed funeral directors form across the nation come to Washington, D.C., to show Congress how much we care about the families we serve, and the BRAVE Act is one example of the impact we can have.”
NFDA is the world’s leading and largest funeral service association, serving more than 20,000 individual members who represent nearly 11,000 funeral homes in the United States and 49 countries around the world. NFDA is the trusted leader, beacon for ethics and the strongest advocate for the profession. NFDA is the association of choice because it offers funeral professionals comprehensive educational resources, tools to manage successful businesses, guidance to become pillars in their communities and the expertise to foster future generations of funeral professionals. NFDA is headquartered in Brookfield, Wis., and has an office in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.nfda.org.