Today, Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Representative John Larson (D-CT) announced the passage of legislation which will provide improved burial benefits to former service members. The provision, which was attached to the recently passed Blinded Veterans Paired Organ Act of 2007, enables more families of deceased veterans to obtain a grave marker from the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA). The legislation was inspired by Hartford-area Army veteran Agostino Guzzo, who passed away in 1998. The VA denied his family's request for a small official marker that could be placed on his tomb.
"It has been a long road to get to this point. But finally, after several years, Congress has given us a chance to right a wrong, and honor all of America's veterans," said Dodd. "The least we can do is grant the families of our nation's military heroes a gravemarker befitting their loved ones' service to our nation."
"Honoring our nation's veterans is particularly important when we are at war. I am thrilled that Senator Dodd and I are able to do something to pay our respects to the men and women who have fought so bravely for this country. I would also like to thank Tom Guzzo in my district. His persistence on behalf of the issue made this happen. His father would be very proud of his hard work."
In 2001, Dodd successfully fought to secure passage of legislation that would allow the Guzzo family and more than 20,000 other families of veterans to acquire a marker from the VA. However, the legislation was only retroactive to September 11, 2001, leaving a gap for honoring veterans with official grave markers for those that died between November 1, 1990 and September 10, 2001. The new legislation approved by Congress eliminates this gap.