RIVERSIDE – An Inland Empire lawmaker’s bill to safeguard veterans’ remains and ensure they’re buried with dignity was signed into law today by Gov. Jerry Brown.
”I’m thrilled the governor signed this important bill,” said Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Beaumont. ”Veterans who have served their country deserve better than to be forgotten at the county morgue after they pass on. We have groups that are willing and able to give them a proper burial, but we need to make sure they’re able to locate our fallen heroes.”
Cook’s Assembly Bill 1806 received unanimous support in the Assembly and Senate last month.
Under the legislation, any U.S. military veteran or that veteran’s immediate dependent whose remains are not claimed but are identified will be turned over to organizations that provide internment services for vets.
The California Department of Veterans Affairs, working with county public administrators and federal agencies, will maintain a statewide database of veterans and veterans’ dependents’ unclaimed remains, according to the legislation.
If the remains are not claimed by relatives in a year, they can be released to state-recognized veterans’ groups, such as the Redding, Calif.- based Missing in America Project, for burial.
”When veterans end up at county morgues and go unclaimed, they are often buried without ceremony or any of the recognition that normally goes along with service in the military,” Cook said in an earlier statement.
The law takes effect Jan. 1.