Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (MO-4), sponsor of H.R. 2355 -- the Hallowed Grounds Act -- has provided the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs with testimony supporting her bill to deny sexual abusers their eligibility to rest among our military heroes in veterans and national cemeteries.
"During a town hall I held in my district last year, a constituent asked for my help and relayed a heart-wrenching story that prompted this legislation," Hartzler informed the panel. "She told of being sexually abused by her father when she was a child. This man was a veteran who went on to be buried in a national cemetery with full honors."
"She (the constituent) asked that I help ensure no other child has to endure this injustice," continued Hartzler. "To honor such a man with reverence and fanfare is a disgrace."
"Current law affording military honors to veterans convicted of sexual abuse is an affront to decency and results in victims and their families being victimized all over again," added Hartzler. "It demeans the honor of all those who have served this nation to allow a child abuser to be buried alongside America's war heroes in a veterans cemetery. We need to ensure that our national cemeteries remain Hallowed Grounds."
The Hallowed Grounds Act will prohibit an individual who is classified as a Tier III sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act from being buried at a veterans or national cemetery. A Tier III sex offender is one whose offenses against a child might include the crimes of aggravated sexual abuse or sexual abuse and abusive sexual contact. Currently, only individuals convicted of capital crimes such as murder and treason are prohibited from receiving these honors."
Vicky Hartzler, who represents Missouri's Fourth Congressional District, serves on the House Armed Services Committee.