Can you get this circulated across our various memberships and to your National Legislative Officers for circulation?
Action Item One: Advocate repeal of the VA Form 40-1330 changes made initially in 2011 without opportunity for comment. If repealed, it will ensure the VA provides headstones to families whose family member graves are marked only with a numbered stone or with incomplete military information.
Action Item Two: The VA needs to state what changes it proposes in the proposed “Change of Applicant” definition. The current Federal Register notice does not articulate what exactly is proposed which precludes reasonable notice. How does one know whether to support or oppose without all information?
It is important our memberships and respective legislative officers have an opportunity to speak on these items and there is a short suspense.
Colonel Greg Eanes, USAF (Ret)
105 Guy Avenue
Crewe, Va 23930
Past Commander, American Legion Post 50
Past Action Officer, VFW Post 7819
Past PR Officer, AMVETS, Dept of Va
Sent: Saturday, July 15, 2017 12:47 AM
Subject: Talking Points Re VA Form 40-1330
We have the opportunity to return the instructions for the VA Form 40-1330 (grave marker application) to their pre-Obama, reasonable nature that makes it much easier for any military grave to get marked.
I apologize for the short notice. I just discovered there are two different deadlines (Monday, 17 July for comments to VA and Sunday, 30 July for OMB); I had only been aware of the later deadline. If you sent comments during the earlier windows of opportunity, please do not hesitate to send them again.
Please feel free to use your own words to touch on one or more of the talking points below. Remember to keep your remarks polite and businesslike; we want to make a good impression. We believe the OMB may already be leaning in our direction; we don’t want to do anything to change that.
OMB Control No. 2900-0222
VA Form 40-1330, Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker
VA comment portal: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=VA-2017-VACO-0001-0142
Comments accepted until 11:59 pm on July 17.
Finally, you can email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any comments sent by mail or email need to have “OMB Control No. 2900–0222” written on the page.
OMB comment portal: will be available after the VA comment period closes on July 17.
Comments will close 30 days after publication. VA doesn’t have to share these comments with OMB.
Issues for discussion
A. The current VA Form 40-1330 contains the following provision for which no notice or opportunity for comment was provided:
“For Veterans that served prior to World War I, a grave is considered marked when a headstone/marker displays the decedent’s name only, or if the name was historically documented in a related document, such as by a number that is inscribed on a grave block and is recorded in a burial ledger. For service during and after World War I, a grave is considered marked if a headstone/marker displays the decedent’s name and date of birth and/or death, even though the Veteran’s military data is not shown.”
(1) This provision was placed on the form in 2011 without notice and the opportunity to comment, which are required under Federal law. The provision must be removed from the form, and if it is to be considered for inclusion in the future, it must be first published in the Federal Register and must allow public comments.
(2) The provision eliminates a benefit for any veteran who served prior World War I. This includes Civil War veterans who served in either the Union or the Confederate Army, as well as veterans of the Spanish-American War. Congress clearly intended for all these veterans to be memorialized with government-furnished headstones or markers. The National Cemetery Administration does not have the authority to unilaterally decide that these veterans do not have the same rights as other veterans.
(3) The provision conflicts with the industry standards that govern cemetery administration. In all cemeteries, the rights to each gravesite are transferred to a specific owner, who carries that right in perpetuity. All cemeteries, including those that are operated by the National Cemetery Administration, must maintain a log of the name associated with each plot. Not to do so would present a serious risk of liability to the managers of the cemetery in the event that a specific plot is assigned to more than one person, or that a decedent is buried in the wrong plot.
(4) The provision conflicts with a pre-existing provision on Page 2 of VA Form 40-1330, which reads:
“MANDATORY ITEMS of inscription at Government expense are: Legal Name, Branch of Service, Year of Birth, Year of Death . . .”
B. The Federal Register notice states that the VA will make a “Change to the Applicant Definition, who can apply for a Government headstone, marker or medallion.” The notice does not state what change that VA proposes. VA is obligated to list the specific change that the agency would like to make so that the public has a legitimate opportunity to provide comments.