When family members of a veteran are buried in national and state veterans cemeteries, the federal government pays for headstones to mark their resting place.

But the law doesn’t extend to the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians’ new Tribal Veterans Cemetery in Aroostook County.

That’s something that U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican whose 2nd District includes the area, hopes to change.

Poliquin recently introduced a bill that would add tribal veterans cemeteries to the those eligible for the markers.

In a prepared statement, Poliquin said that “our veterans and their families have all served our nation and have sacrificed to defend our freedom,. The cemeteries across our country where they are laid to rest are hallowed ground that know no jurisdictions or bureaucracy.”

“Veterans laid to rest in tribal veterans cemeteries should have the honor of being buried with their families and all should have access to headstones commemorating their sacrifices,” he said.

Clarissa Sabattis, chief of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, said Poliquin’s bill “honors the families and acknowledges the sacrifices made by those who stay behind by providing headstones for the spouses and children of veterans who are buried in tribal cemeteries.”

Poliquin said he’s proud the Houlton Band created the first tribal veterans cemetery east of the Mississippi River.

“It is a great honor to serve them and to make this commonsense fix so all our veterans and their families can be properly honored when they are laid to rest,” the congressman said.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides headstones, bronze markers or plaques for the graves of veterans, their spouses and dependents who are interred at a federal or state veterans cemetery. It will also pay for the markers for veterans in any cemetery if they don’t already have one.

Poliquin’s bill is in front of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

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U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin
AP

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