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Public Statements

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. HAYWORTH. Madam Chair, the purpose of this amendment is to equally increase and decease funding by $1 to address an issue for many of our guardsmen, reservists, and their families. A number of these men and women, these guardsmen and reservists, who dutifully serve our country for many years are never called into active duty. Under current law they are ineligible to receive a government memorial headstone or marker for their grave site.

This issue came to my attention in our own home district in New York when I heard from Mr. Charles Ricotta, who is a constituent of ours. He lost his son Joe to a heart attack. It was Joe's 47th birthday, and he had served in the Navy Reserve from 1997 to 2007. And despite his 10 years of service in the Reserves, he was not eligible to receive a government headstone or marker honoring his service.

Mr. Charles Ricotta, Joe's father, isn't looking for a handout. He's not looking for payments for any other burial services. He simply would like to purchase, at his own expense, a foot marker from the VA for his son's grave site to recognize Joe's service to our country.

So there is a piece of legislation that I've introduced, H.R. 2305, the Memorialize Our Guardsmen and Reservists Act, and that would correct this inequity by making available for purchase, through the Department of Veterans Affairs, headstones or markers for members of the Reserve components who did not serve on active duty.

A government memorial may cost less than other headstones. This particular one would seem to be a modest monument, but it's more than a simple appearance. It's a symbol of service and sacrifice for our Nation. Our servicemen and -women, active and inactive, have contributed or sacrificed their time and efforts for our Nation, and they've been separated from their families, friends, and civilian lives. Our Reserve components deserve the opportunity to be recognized for the commitment they have made to serve and defend our country. They share the same spirit of patriotism as the millions of soldiers who came before them and served in hopes that no others would be needed to serve in time of war.

Headstones or markers for our guardsmen or reservists would be paid for by the individual or family member at no additional cost to taxpayers. This has been endorsed by the National Guard Association of the United States, Reserve Officers Association, and the Association of the United States Navy.

This issue deserves our attention as we consider this legislation, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to address it.

With that, Madam Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

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