Funeral directors across the U.S. will be paying an annual visit to Capitol Hill April 26 to 28, as the profession looks forward to one of its most important calendar events and the opportunity to advocate on behalf of America’s bereaved.
Among the priorities of the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA)’s 2017 Advocacy Summit will be its campaign in support of the BRAVE Act, currently being considered by Congress, to increase certain funeral benefits for services veterans.
During the NFDA Advocacy Summit, which is being held at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel, funeral directors from small towns and big cities have the chance to meet with their members of Congress or chiefs of staff. They’ll have the opportunity to convey the needs and priorities of the bereaved, from the first-hand experience of having served them.
“It’s the opportunity to make our views known”
As NFDA president Ashley Cozine explained: “It’s the opportunity to go and make our views known, how we feel about certain issues and how they directly affect the families we are privileged to serve in our communities.”
Working at the heart of local communities and at the frontline of serving the bereaved, funeral professionals have first-hand experience of how amends to social security payments, veterans benefits and other rules and laws motioned and passed by Congress can affect ordinary families.
For members of the funeral profession, the summit is an opportunity to relate to Congress and lawmakers how legislation can affect the bereaved.
“It’s very important that funeral directors attend the advocacy summit, so that their voice is heard on Capitol Hill,” said Ashley Cozine.
The NFDA’s Advocacy Committee chair Bob Arrington said: “Washington has a very important role in how we operate as funeral professionals in our hometowns.”
Supporting the bereaved
As well as lobby on behalf of the profession and the communities it serves, the NFDA Summit also keeps its members up to date on legislative and regulatory issues, such as the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule, which helps the funeral profession to support the bereaved’s funeral arrangement decisions and choices.
Members can also look forward to keynote talks from special guest speakers. Matt Schlapp, the chairman of one of the country’s oldest conservative lobbying organizations, The American Conservative Union, will be speaking, with retired Marines sergeant major and former police officer Dan Miller addressing delegates on the final day of the NFDA Advocacy Summit.
Dan is now an ambassador for the Wounded Warrior Project, a charity organization which empowers injured veterans and their families by providing free programs and services that address their needs and fill gaps in government care.
Ensuring that military veterans receive an honorable funeral at the end of their lives, is a cause close to NFDA members’ hearts, with the organization lobbying hard for congressman Duncan Hunter’s BRAVE Act, a move to increase certain veteran funeral benefits to be passed by Congress.
At present, the NFDA is working with leadership and the Veterans Affairs Committee to identify a “pay-for” saving in federal expenditure, which would offset the cost of paying for the proposed new benefit increases.
You can hear Lesley Witter, the NFDA’s Senior Vice President on Advocacy, explain the BRAVE Act in more detail here:
Appropriately, the NFDA Advocacy Summit will conclude with members paying their respects to the nation’s fallen, with the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
The NFDA says: “The wreath laying ceremony is a frequent ritual that reflects both the beauty and brevity of life.”