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Senate passes bill allowing VA to disinter criminals

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The Senate passed a bill Monday that would allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to unbury military service members in national cemeteries if they committed a capital crime.

Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) introduced the Alicia Dawn Koehl Respect for National Cemeteries Act after Koehl she was shot by a service member. Michael Anderson was buried at Fort Custer National Cemetery, but Coats argued he shouldn’t have been since existing law prohibits anyone convicted of a federal or state capital crime from receiving a military honor burial.

The cemetery claimed they couldn’t disinter Anderson’s remains because he wasn’t officially convicted since he shot himself after committing the crime. Coats’ bill corrects that technicality.

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Mark is a Retired Command Sergeant Major with 26 years of military leadership experience. He held 3 military occupational specialties (Field Artillery, Nuclear Weapons Tech, and Ammunition Ordnance). Mark is one of the leading military authors in the fields of leadership, counseling, and training.

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  • Eck


    CSM(R) Pullom,

    The law has always been if a person is convicted of a capital crime they are not permitted to be buried in a national cemetery. The proposed law allows the dis-internment or prevention of burial in a national cemetery if the person commits a capital crime. It changes the statute from “convicted” to “committed.”

    Those of us who have been deployed all know Soldiers who were outstanding in theater but could not stay out of trouble in a garrison environment.

    We also have seen the unfortunate effects of PTSD on our fellow Soldiers. If a Soldier’s PTSD is the root cause of his actions, then that should be taken into consideration on a case by case basis.

    It is just my opinion, but if a Soldier commits a capital crime (rape, murder, etc) and there is no PTSD/TBI involved, regardless of any awards and decorations received, the Soldier should absolutely forfeit their right to being buried among our honored veterans in a national cemetery.

  • CSM(R) Pullom


    I fully understand the victim feeling in this particular case, nor due I condone any one committing a capital crime. There are pros and coins when dealing with particular cases. We have to take a hard look at our veterans who are returning from combat and experiencing PTSD. Just a quick scenario, if a veteran received a Medal of Honor for heroisms during combat operation in war, do we strip them from receiving a honorable burial.

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