The New Mexico House of Representatives has passed a bill designed to ensure that every person serving in active-duty military receive burials in accordance to their wishes. It’s funeral planning for those who don’t plan to die, but their lives are on the line. Currently, any family member, spouse or even ex-spouse can make decisions about final arrangements for military personnel, and they may not make choices the person would have wanted.
The House voted 59-0 in favor of passing HB 15, which was introduced by Rep. Eliseo “Lee” Alcon (D-Milan).
“It is fantastic to see this important piece of legislation pass through the House without debate,” Rep. Alcon said after the vote. “This legislation means military personnel can serve knowing that their last wishes are on record and will be honored. Currently there are no rules in place to make sure a soldier’s wishes are seen through. Right now, any family member, spouse or even ex-spouse can make decisions about a soldier’s final arrangements. This can lead to conflict and a degrading of the sacrifice the soldier made.”
HB 15 would require that the Department of Defense Record of Emergency Data form be the only information used to direct burial or disposition arrangements, since military personnel fill these forms out themselves. This form designates beneficiaries for certain benefits in the event of the Service member’s death. It would also act as a guide for disposition of that member’s pay and allowances if captured, missing or interned. It would show names and addresses of anyone the service member desires to be notified in case of emergency or death.
“This bill gives the active-duty soldier control in making difficult decisions by simply filling out one form,” Rep. Alcon said. “Their Emergency Data Form will serve as mandate for disposition arrangements for the soldier, eliminating any question of the person’s final wishes.”
This bill was supported by the Military and Veteran’s Affairs Committee. HB 15 will now be turned over to the New Mexico Senate for consideration.
Perhaps this legislation will serve as a model for other states regarding how military personnel dictate their wishes for a funeral or memorial service should they die during their service to our country.