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Van Drew-Madden Bill To Permit Vets’ Organizations To Give Unclaimed Vets’ Cremains Proper Burial Signed Into Law

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Jeff Van Drew and Fred Madden to permit funeral directors to release the unclaimed cremains of a deceased veteran to a certified veterans’ organization for proper burial was signed into law today by the Governor. The sponsors noted that this law will allow the remains of veterans which have sat unclaimed to receive a send-off fitting of the veterans’ service to their country.

“The brave men and women who have given so much to serve their country deserve to be remembered properly,” said Senator Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland and Atlantic. “However, for far too long in the State of New Jersey, the cremated remains of veterans who died without an identifiable next of kin sat, unclaimed and forgotten on shelves. I thank Governor Corzine for signing this measure into law, ensuring that we show due respect for a military veterans’ years of service and give their remains a fitting and proper burial.”

The new law, S-1579, permits a funeral director to grant a veterans’ organization within the State of New Jersey the right to receive the cremains of a veteran if they have not been claimed by a relative or friend of the deceased within one year following cremation. The funeral director will be required to certify to the Commissioner of Health and Senior Services that a diligent effort has been made to find an appropriate next of kin within the year following cremation. The bill holds harmless any funeral home, mortuary or funeral director who acts in good faith to fulfill the bill’s provisions.

“As the generation of Americans who fought in World War II gets older, it is becoming more and more difficult to locate a next of kin for some of our aging veterans,” said Senator Madden, D-Gloucester and Camden. “In cases when a family member or friend cannot be found through the best efforts of a funeral home, the cremains should be released to a veterans’ organization to be given proper burial. This law is about making sure that we never forget the sacrifices and service of the men and women in uniform..”

The bill received unanimous support from the Senate in December of last year.