Plan to recognize federal form reported from committee
LANSING – A plan introduced by State Representative Fred Miller (D-Mount Clemens) was reported out of the House Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security on Tuesday by a unanimous vote. The lawmaker’s legislation will ensure that men and women in the military can designate a person of their choice to handle final arrangements in the event that they are killed in the line of duty.
“Our military servicemen and servicewomen are our real-world superheroes,” Miller said. “If they are asked to make the ultimate sacrifice, the least we can do is allow them to choose who will be responsible for their final arrangements. I’m pleased that the Committee voted unanimously on this bill to ensure that the wishes of Michigan’s brave men and women are protected.”
Under current Michigan law, the surviving spouse of a service member handles the arrangements for a member of the military killed in action. If there is no surviving spouse, a descendent over the age of 18, a surviving parent or a sibling is then responsible. Miller’s plan will allow service members to designate either a surviving spouse or a blood or adoptive relative of legal age to be responsible for their remains if they are killed in the line of duty. Conflicts between current law and a person’s DD Form 93 designation can cause undue hardship on a family already grieving.
“My bill will ease the administrative burdens in laying a service member’s remains to rest,” Miller said. “This is the least we can do to assist grieving families through difficult times.”
Miller’s plan is part of an effort by the United States Department of Defense to protect the expressed, written wishes of service members that are recorded on DD Form 93, the Record of Emergency Data form. The form is used to designate beneficiaries for certain benefits in the event of the service member’s death. It also serves as a guide for the service member’s pay if captured or missing in action. In addition, it provides the names and addresses of the people the service member desires to be notified in case of emergency or death.
The federal DD form 93 is an essential part of a service member’s military record and all active service members fill one out annually and before deployment. Having this form recognized by all 50 states is one of the U.S. Department of Defense Office for Military Community and Family Policy’s top ten issues.
The Department of Defense approached Miller with this legislation due to his successful work in passing Public Act 480 of 2008, which allows the spouse of active military personnel to qualify for unemployment if the military spouse is reassigned.
The bill, House Bill 5850, is now before the full House of Representatives and floor action is expected next week.