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Bill aims to ensure Mass. veterans’ graves are marked

The graves of military veterans would no longer go accidentally unmarked on Veterans Day or Memorial Day if state lawmakers pass a bill aimed at improving the communication surrounding the deaths of veterans.

Currently, when a veteran dies, the funeral director files a notice with the local board of health, which is supposed to notify the veterans’ graves officer, the local official responsible for caring for veterans’ graves.

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But state Representative Shaunna O’Connell, Republican of Taunton and the bill’s sponsor, said communication tends to break down and often the graves officer is never notified.

“Some veterans’ gravesites are not receiving proper recognition and proper markings,’’ O’Connell said.

On Wednesday, the Joint Committee on Veterans and Federal Affairs held a public hearing on legislation that would require funeral directors to notify the local veterans’ agent, in addition to the board of health, before a veteran is buried.

Several veterans testified in favor of the bill.

Paul Waldron, commander of the National Order of Trench Rats Dugout 622 in Brockton, said the lack of communication has resulted in veterans’ graves not being honored on Veterans Day and Memorial Day.

“Those we speak for today can no longer speak for themselves,’’ Waldron said. “It’s up to us as veterans to speak for those people. We’re looking for them to be properly honored.’’

Thirty-two lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, have signed on as supporters.

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