Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler's Hallowed Grounds Act has been passed by the U.S. House as part of a much larger bill to improve several programs for veterans under laws administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. The Hallowed Grounds Act will prohibit an individual who is classified as a Tier III sex offender under the Sex Offender Registry and Notification Act, and has been sentenced to life in prison for that crime, 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.
"I am pleased that my Hallowed Grounds Act has been approved by the House as part of another important bill," said Hartzler. "Current law affording military honors to veterans convicted of sexual abuse is an affront to decency. 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."
"I first learned of this situation during a town hall I held in Osceola last year," added Hartzler. "A constituent asked for my help and relayed a heart-wrenching story 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 asked that I help ensure no other child has to endure this injustice."
Under current law, only individuals convicted of capital crimes such as murder and treason are ineligible for honors and burial in veterans and national cemeteries.
Congresswoman Hartzler, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, represents Missouri's Fourth Congressional District -- home to Whiteman Air Force Base and Fort Leonard Wood.