Bill seeks changes for unmarked veterans graves

CLEVELAND (AP) - Ohio historians are welcoming a U.S. Senate bill to make it easier to get headstones for historic unmarked veterans' graves.

U.S. senators Rob Portman of Ohio and Jon Tester of Montana recently introduced a bipartisan bill to enable veterans' service agencies, military researchers, historians or genealogists to request free headstones or markers from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The VA previously provided headstones for unmarked veterans' graves based on documentation of veterans' identities and service provided by those groups or individuals. A 2012 policy change limited requests to veterans' next-of-kin or authorized family representatives.

The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reports historians say that creates difficulty in getting markers for graves sometimes a century old.

The VA says the change was intended to prevent graves being marked without families' knowledge.

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