State Rep. Kenneth Paschal (R-Pelham) is sponsoring legislation that seeks to identify the unclaimed cremated remains of military veterans and outlines their proper and respectful final disposition in a state or national military cemetery.

"The men and women who serve in our nation's military deserve our appreciation and respect both during their lives and after they pass," Paschal, vice chair of the House Military and Veterans Affairs Committee, said in a statement Monday. "The fact that cremated remains go unclaimed must not prevent a military veteran from receiving the honor, celebration, and interment they earned by serving their nation and wearing its uniform."

Paschal, a 21-year veteran of the U.S. Army, said House Bill 129 would complement existing state law by defining the "dignified and humane manner" in which remains must be handled and mandating the best method for identifying the unclaimed cremated remains of Alabama veterans who are eligible for burial in a state or national military cemetery.

Under the provisions of HB129, funeral homes would be authorized to disclose identifying information to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs, a veterans service organization or an approved non-profit entity.

Alabama is home to roughly 400,000 veterans and four state veterans homes: the Bill Nichols State Veterans Home in Alexander City, the Floyd E. "Tut" Fann State Veterans Home in Huntsville, the William F. Green State Veterans Home in Bay Minette, and the Colonel Robert L. Howard State Veterans Home in Pell City.

In addition, six cemeteries dedicated to the men and women who have worn American military uniforms are located across the state.

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