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Authorities could disinter veterans buried in national cemeteries if they committed a capital crime under a proposal from three Indiana lawmakers.
The measure is aimed at removing the remains of Army veteran Michael L. Anderson from the Fort Custer National Cemetery in Michigan, where he was buried in 2012. Anderson allegedly murdered an Indianapolis resident, Alicia Dawn Koehl, and shot three others in May 2012 and then committed suicide, according to the Indianapolis Star.
Federal law bars anyone convicted of murder under state or federal law from burial in a national cemetery, but that did not apply to Anderson because he never went to trial.
Koehl’s family asked the Veterans Affairs Department to remove Anderson’s remains from the national cemetery, but the request that was denied on June 30, according to sponsors of the new legislation, which would give VA and the Army discretion to reconsider burials, which they hope would lead to Anderson’s remains being removed.
Rep. Susan Brooks, R-Ind., chief sponsor of the House version of HR 3106, said the Koehl family “deserves the closure that our ineffective federal bureaucracy has denied for too long. This is a much needed legislative fix that will protect the integrity of our national cemeteries.”
Republican Sen. Dan Coats and Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly are sponsoring identical legislation in the Senate.
Coats said the victim’s family “has suffered enough and deserves to have this unacceptable mistake corrected.”
Donnelly said the bill, the Alicia Dawn Koehl Respect for National Cemeteries Act, was suggested by VA, which “informed us that a legislative solution is needed.”