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Casualty Assistance – Legislation

Military programs are governed by federal law, Defense Department policy and additional policies specific to the branches of service. These are excerpts from federal law that govern casualty assistance programs in the military.

Public Law 110-207, “Purple Heart Family Equity Act of 2007,” April 30, 2008 This law revised the congressional charter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart of the United States of America Inc. to allow inclusion of spouses and siblings of Purple Heart recipients as members of the order.

Title 10 United States Code §985, “Persons convicted of capital crimes; certain other persons: denial of specified burial-related benefits,” Jan. 3, 2012 This legislation provides information on the circumstances under which the military prohibits the performance of military funeral honors for service members.

Title 10 USC §1126, “Gold star lapel button: eligibility and distribution,” Jan. 3, 2012 This law provides for the eligibility and distribution of the gold star lapel button.

Section 633 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (Public Law 113-66), “Improved assistance for Gold Star spouses and other dependents,” Dec. 23, 2013 This law requires each of the military departments to designate an advocate for Gold Star spouses and other dependents to address complaints regarding casualty assistance or receipt of benefits authorized by law and for the Department of Defense to implement a standardized comprehensive training program on casualty assistance.

Section 651 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (Public Law 113-66), “Authority to provide certain expenses for care and disposition of human remains that were retained by the Department of Defense for forensic pathology investigation,” Dec. 23, 2013 This law authorizes expenses relating to the care and disposition of remains or partial remains that have been retained by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner for the purposes of a forensic pathology investigation.

Title 10 USC §1032, “Disability and death compensation: dependents of members held as captives,” Jan. 3, 2012 This legislation allows the military to pay compensation for the disability or death of a dependent of a service member if the disability or death was caused by hostile action and was a result of the relationship of the dependent to the service member.

Title 10 USC §1036, “Escorts for dependents of members: transportation and travel allowances,” Jan. 3, 2012 This legislation allows the military to pay round-trip transportation and travel allowances to any person serving as an escort for dependents of a service member who has died, is missing or is otherwise unable to accompany his/her dependents and the dependent is unable to travel alone.

Title 10 USC §1061, “Survivors of certain reserve and Guard members,” Jan. 3, 2012 This legislation grants commissary and exchange benefits to family members of reserve component service members who die on active duty or while traveling to or from active duty.

Title 10 USC Chapter 73, Subchapter II, “Survivor Benefit Plan,” Jan. 3, 2012 This legislation details the military’s Survivor Benefit Plan. Included in Subchapter II are sections describing definitions (§1447), application of the plan (§1448), election to discontinue participation (§1448a), mental incompetency of service members (§1449), payment of annuity (§1450), amount of annuity (§1451), reduction in retired pay (§1452), recovery of amounts erroneously paid (§1453), correction of administrative errors (§1454) and regulations (§1455).

Title 10 USC Chapter 75, Subchapter II, “Death Benefits,” Jan. 3, 2012 This legislation provides laws concerning the military death gratuity. Included in Subchapter II are sections describing the death gratuity for service members on active duty (§1475), for service members who have been discharged (§1476), eligibility requirements (§1477), amount of death gratuity (§1478), delegation of determinations and payments (§1479), miscellaneous provisions for death gratuity (§1480), recovery, care, and disposition of remains (§1481), expenses incident to death (§1482), expenses incident to death for civilian employees (§1482a), prisoners of war and interned enemy aliens (§1483), pensioners, indigent patients and persons who die on military reservations (§1484), dependents of service members (§1485), other citizens outside the United States (§1486), temporary interment (§1487), removal of remains (§1488), death gratuity for service members and civilians dying outside the United States while assigned to intelligence missions (§1489), transportation of remains (§1490) and funeral honors functions at funerals for veterans (§1491).

Title 26 USC §692, “Income taxes of members of armed forces, astronauts and victims of certain terrorist attacks on death,” Jan. 3, 2012 This legislation states that if a service member dies in a combat zone or as a result of wounds, disease or injury incurred while serving in a combat zone, income taxes will not apply with respect to the taxable year in which the service member dies.

Title 37 USC §411f [renumbered §481f], “Travel and transportation allowances: transportation for survivors of deceased member to attend member’s burial ceremonies,” Jan. 3, 2012 This legislation allows individual service branches to provide travel and transportation allowances for eligible relatives, and attendants if deemed necessary, of a member of the uniformed services who dies while on active duty or inactive duty in order that the eligible relatives may attend the burial ceremony.

Title 37 USC §411h [renumbered §481h], “Travel and transportation allowances: transportation of designated individuals incident to hospitalization of members for treatment of wounds, illness or injury,” Jan. 3, 2012 This legislation allows the individual service branches to provide travel and transportation allowances for up to three family members of ill or injured service members if the attending physician or surgeon and commander or head of the military medical facility determine that their presence may contribute to the service member’s health and welfare.

Title 38 USC Chapter 11, “Compensation for Service-Connected Disability or Death,” Jan. 3, 2012 This legislation describes benefits available to surviving family members of veterans with service-connected disabilities or deaths. Chapter 11 contains six subchapters detailing eligibility and amounts for disabilities and deaths connected to wartime and peacetime situations.

Title 38 USC Chapter 13, “Dependency and Indemnity Compensation for Service-Connected Deaths,” Jan. 3, 2012 This legislation details the dependency and indemnity compensation to survivors of veterans who die as result of their service in the military.

Title 38 USC Chapter 15, “Pension for Non-Service-Connected Disability or Death or for Service,” Jan. 3, 2012 This legislation outlines pensions available to certain veterans and surviving family members to include non-service-connected disability pensions and pensions to surviving spouses and children.

Title 38 USC Chapter 19, Subchapter III, “Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance,” Jan. 3, 2012 This legislation details Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance to include eligibility requirements, persons insured, duration of coverage, deduction and expenses, benefits and payment of premiums. Included in Subchapter III is §1977 detailing Veterans’ Group Life Insurance. Updated legislation was approved on Oct. 17, 2022, increasing the coverage from $400,000 to $500,000.

Title 38 USC Chapter 23, “Burial Benefits,” Jan. 3, 2012 This legislation provides the laws concerning burial benefits available to eligible service members and veterans to include ceremonial flags (§2301), funeral expenses (§2302), death in department facility/plot allowances (§2303), claims for reimbursement (§2304), persons eligible under prior law (§2305), headstones, markers and burial receptacles (§2306), death from a service-connected disability (§2307) and transportation of deceased veterans to a national cemetery (§2308).

Title 38 USC Chapter 35, “Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance,” Jan. 3, 2012 This legislation codifies the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance program offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Chapter 35 provides detail on the program, eligibility and entitlement requirements, acceptable programs of education and payments to eligible persons.

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