Under a new rule proposed to the Federal Registrar this week, active-duty service members who die in a non-combat incident would not be eligible to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Department of the Army, which oversees cemetery operations, has cautioned that the cemetery is expected to run out of burial space by 2055, although new efforts to expand the space led to 3,691 new graves in 2019, according to a notice proposing the new guidelines.
“Changes to eligibility at Arlington National Cemetery will preserve this national symbol and shrine as an active burial ground for current and future generations of military service members,” the registrar notice said, Stars and Stripes reported.
The proposed new rule, which is part of efforts to extend the operational capacities of the cemetery, would mandate that service members who are killed in action or whose death resulted “from preparations or operations related to combat” would be eligible to be buried at the cemetery.
It would allow for roughly 700 new in-ground burials each year and 1,950 above-ground burials for eligible service members, veterans and family.
While veterans who continue to receive retired military pay would be most impacted by the change, veterans would still be eligible for in-ground and above-ground burials if they served in combat and received either the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star or Purple Heart.
Other veterans and service members who did not reach such eligibility will still be eligible for above-ground inurnment if they served on active duty for at least two years and conducted armed-conflict service, according to the notice. Those who served during an armed conflict before July 27, 1953, would also remain eligible.
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