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Reps. Bishop, Johnson and Walz Introduce Full Military Honors Act H.R. 6734
Washington, September 10, 2018 | 0 comments
"America’s POWs and Medal of Honor recipients have sacrificed immeasurably in service to the United States – regardless of their rank.
"WASHINGTON – Congressmen Mike Bishop (MI-08), Sam Johnson (TX-03), and House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Ranking Member Tim Walz (MN-01) today announced the introduction of the Full Military Honors Act of 2018 (H.R. 6734) to allow enlisted Medal of Honor recipients and Prisoners of War (POW) who are eligible for burial at Arlington National Cemetery to receive a full military honors burial, which includes an escort platoon, a military band, and a caisson (horse drawn casket) if available. Currently, full military honors are reserved for commissioned officers, warrant officers and senior non-commissioned officers.
“America’s POWs and Medal of Honor recipients have sacrificed immeasurably in service to the United States – regardless of their rank. So I was shocked to find out that earlier this year a former POW from Michigan, Army Pvt. 1st Class Robert Fletcher was denied a full honors burial at Arlington National Cemetery based solely on his enlisted rank,” said Rep. Bishop. “This has been an issue for too long, and my legislation will ensure those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty are provided the full military honors they have earned for their end of life ceremonies.”
“During my time in the infamous Hanoi Hilton, many of my fellow POWs and I were isolated in cramped cells,” said Rep. Johnson. “We spent months in leg irons, years in leg stocks, and endured extreme starvation and torture. My fellow POWs who served honorably demonstrated the utmost patriotism, but not all of them were eligible for full military honors at their burial, simply due to their rank. I believe this is wrong. ANY veteran who served honorably as a Prisoner of War or whose actions earned them the Medal of Honor has already demonstrated extraordinary dedication to defending Freedom. In return, they deserve to have the country they fought for bestow full military honors if they are eligible to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. I am grateful for Rep. Mike Bishop’s leadership on this issue, and I’m proud to join him in standing up for the service and sacrifice of our Great Nation’s veterans.”
“Medal of Honor recipients and POWs have earned and deserve nothing less than full military honors,” said Rep. Walz. “As a retired enlisted soldier of 24 years, I’m proud to join in introducing the Full Military Honors Act. To help ensure we honor the sacrifices these heroes and their families have made for our country, we must pass it without delay.”
Congressman Sam Johnson, a 29-year U.S. Air Force veteran, flew combat missions in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. On the 25th combat mission of his second tour in Vietnam, Johnson was shot down over North Vietnam and held as a POW for nearly seven years in the “Hanoi Hilton.” While there, his captors labeled him a “diehard” resistor and moved him into solitary confinement in “Alcatraz,” along with ten other POWs including U.S. Senator Jeremiah Denton and Vice Presidential candidate Jim Stockdale.
Congressman Tim Walz, a 24-year veteran of the Army National Guard, is the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and serves on the US-Russia Joint Commission on POW/MIAs. Walz is the highest ranking enlisted soldier ever to serve in Congress.
The Full Military Honors Act of 2018 is endorsed by the American Legion, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Military Officers Association of America, National League of POW/ MIA Families, Special Operations Association, Special Forces Association, and American Fallen Warriors Memorial Foundation, to read letters in support of H.R. 6734 click HERE.
Senate Bill aims to widen farewells for vets
As a member of the Old Guard, the U.S. Army's official ceremonial unit, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., helped provide fitting farewells for people being buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
But the veterans' send-offs, he discovered, aren't always equal. Typically, they all are accompanied by a bugle, an honor guard and a rifle volley. Caissons, color guards and military bands, on the other hand, accompany only former officers and those killed in action.
In some instances, Cotton maintains, that standard is too narrow. His Full Military Honors Act of 2018 aims to broaden it.
"The rank of a Medal of Honor recipient or POW should not be the final measure of their service to this country. Instead, their courageous actions and the sacrifices they made should be enough to prove their dedication, and their funeral honors must reflect the same," Cotton said in a news release. "Passage of this bill will show the families of the deceased and members of our military that the United States will always honor its veterans appropriately for their service."
The measure has the support of the numerous organizations, including the American Legion and the National League of POW/MIA Families.
Cotton introduced his bill Sept. 27. Similar legislation has been filed in the House.
To amend title 10, United States Code, to require a full military honors ceremony for certain deceased veterans, and for other purposes.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
September 27, 2018 Mr. Cotton introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs
A BILL To amend title 10, United States Code, to require a full military honors ceremony for certain deceased veterans, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the “Full Military Honors Act of 2018”.
SEC. 2. FULL MILITARY HONORS CEREMONY FOR CERTAIN VETERANS.
Section 1491(b) of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
“(3) The Secretary concerned shall provide full military honors (as determined by the Secretary concerned) for the funeral of a veteran who--
“(A) is first interred or first inurned in Arlington National Cemetery on or after the date of the enactment of the Full Military Honors Act of 2018;
“(B) was awarded the medal of honor or the prisoner-of-war medal; and
“(C) is not entitled to full military honors by the grade of that veteran.”.