Martin C. Evans

Soldiers’ moms want burial with sons

In Uncategorized on January 3, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Should VA cemeteries heed the wishes of parents who want to be buried with their soldier children?

The VA doesn’t think so, even though the mother of Spc. Corey Shea, a Massachusetts soldier killed in Iraq two years ago, wants to be buried in his plot when her time comes.

So does Dorine Kenney, a Middle Island, NY mother whose son Spc. Jacob Fletcher was killed in Iraq in 2003. Fletcher is interred at Long Island National Cemetery, in Farmingdale.

Dorine Kenney wants to be buried with her
slain soldier son, Spc. Jacob Fletcher.

“He is the closest person to me in my life,” said Kenney, who was divorced when Fletcher was an infant and raised him as a single mother. “I really don’t have anyone else.”

Shea’s mother, Denise Anderson, of Mansfield, this year persuaded two Massachusetts members of Congress to offer the Corey Shea Act, which would force the Department of Veterans Affairs to reverse policy and allow such burials.

Kenney had started pushing for change even earlier. She began writing to officials at Long Island National Cemetery in 2006, urging them to allow her to be buried with him upon her death. She said she plans to be cremated.

But the Department of Veterans Affairs, which administers 130 of the nation’s military cemeteries, only allows such burials with a special waver, according to an article by the Associated Press. Thus far, wavers have been granted only after an applicant’s death, meaning she would not know what would become of her body.

Mass. Sen. John Kerry and Rep. Barney Frank penned the Corey Shea legislation, which would allow parents of soldiers to be buried with them at VA cemeteries – Arlington is an Army cemetery and would be excluded – if the soldier had no spouse or minor children. Both Shea and Fletcher were single.

The response from vets groups has been mixed, with at least some saying it would invite the dilution of veterans benefits.

Ruth Stonesifer, national president of American Gold Star Mothers, said most members of her group support the bill, according to the AP. Her organization represents women who have had soldier children killed in battle.

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