November 12, 1998
Washington, D.C. -- In a White House Veterans Day ceremony, the President yesterday signed legislation changing the name of the National Cemetery System (NCS) to the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) and the title of the director to Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs.
The National Cemetery System has always operated at the same level within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as the Veterans Health Administration and the Veterans Benefits Administration, but NCS's name and the title of its director did not properly reflect the equivalent organizational level.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Secretary Togo D. West, Jr., said, "This change gives the former National Cemetery System and its dedicated employees the recognition they deserve for their exemplary service to veterans, their families and this Nation."
The legislation, known as the Veterans' Benefits Enhancement Act of 1998, includes changes and additions to various VA programs for veterans. The legislation also authorizes the following changes in VA burial benefits and NCA programs:
Nationwide, VA operates 115 national cemeteries. Most can accept cremated remains, and all are able to inter the spouse or eligible children of a family member already buried. More than 76,000 veterans and eligible family members were buried in VA national cemeteries in Fiscal Year 1998.
Veterans with discharges other than dishonorable, their spouses and dependent children are eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery. VA also provides grave markers or headstones for the unmarked graves of eligible veterans even if they are not buried in a national cemetery. VA does not reserve space in national cemeteries prior to the time of need. Information on VA burial benefits is available from national cemetery offices and VA regional offices.
For more information, call 1-800-827-1000, or visit the VA Homepage on the World Wide Web at http://www.va.gov or the National Cemetery Administration Homepage at http://www.cem.va.gov.
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