On 19 APR Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Mark Begich (D-AK) introduced legislation aimed at restoring the Clark Veterans Cemetery in the Philippines. The Remembering America's Forgotten Veterans Cemetery Act (S.2320) would require the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) to restore, operate, and maintain Clark Veterans Cemetery to honor the courageous Americans buried there. The ABMC is an independent agency of the U.S. government charged with managing overseas cemeteries and monuments. The Senate bill is a companion measure to H.R.4168 which was introduced by Representative Frank Guinta (R-NH) last month. "The U.S. government has a moral responsibility to care for veterans cemeteries that honor those who have bravely served our country," said Senator Ayotte. "The American veterans buried in Clark Veterans Cemetery deserve a dignified and well-maintained final resting place, and it's time for the U.S. government to fulfill its responsibility to care for this sacred ground." Senator Begich said, " America's veterans deserve dignity and honor no matter where they are buried. It is our duty to recognize their service by making sure this cemetery is maintained appropriately, and this final resting place of thousands of service members should not be left in disrepair."
The Caring for the Fallen Act (H.R.4168), on which subcommittee hearings have been held, currently has 10 cosponsors. A “watered down” version of Guinta’s bill is now advancing within the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (HVAC). The revised provision, which has been attached to annual VA COLA legislation, now requires the ABMC to “study” the matter and then report their findings to Congress. Clark Veterans Cemetery was consigned to oblivion in 1991, when Mount Pinatubo’s gigantic eruption forced the U.S. to abandon the sprawling air base surrounding it. Retired U.S. soldiers, Marines and sailors volunteer to keep watch, relying on donations to try to maintain the grounds, but they lament that they’re helplessly short on funds to fix things, and that Washington is unwilling to help. It’s the veterans’ cemetery that America forgot. [Source: AFSA On Call 25 Apr 2012 ++]