Dancer bill would create burial fund for impoverished veterans

Dancer bill would create burial fund for impoverished veterans

TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblyman Ron Dancer recently introduced legislation that would create a fund to help pay for burying or cremating veterans who passed with little resources of their own.

Dancer’s bill (A3918) would establish a burial fund for indigent veterans. When submitting their state income tax return, taxpayers could make voluntary contributions from their refund or enclose a contribution to provide funds for burials or cremations, for veterans of little means including those who were homeless or whose remains have been abandoned.

“Veterans who proudly served their country sometimes fall on hard times, and don’t have the means to cover burial and funeral expenses once they pass,” Dancer (R-Ocean) said. “My bill makes it convenient for taxpayers to contribute to interment costs for those who served our country.”

According to the nonprofit Housing Assistance Council, 5.2% of New Jersey’s 322,000 veterans live in poverty, defined as one person living on less than $13,590 in 2022. The average burial plot in the state costs $2,255, and the average cremation $3,000. Total average funeral costs hover between $7,000 and $12,000.

Dancer’s bill would require the Legislature to appropriate that donated money to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs for burial and cremation costs associated with impoverished veterans.

The law currently requires the county where those veterans reside to provide up to $250 for burial or cremation, with the state covering any additional costs up to $1,250. Reimbursement may be available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.