veteran salute

Cemetery pay raises, hiring Vet families among VA topics

Sam HautGovernment, Headlines

veterans salute

The Delaware Commission of Veteran Affairs discussed several issues at its April meeting.

The Delaware Commission of Veteran Affairs plans to change the state’s definition of veteran to include officers working at two federal agencies, and also will lower the commission status of Korean War Veterans groups, now that their last chapter has closed.

The group on Tuesday also discussed pay for state Veterans Cemetery workers and whether rules should be changed so family members can be hired there. Right now, the jobs are reserved for Veterans and go unfilled.

The change to the definition would be made to include commissioned officers with the U.S. Public Health Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration so that they can get benefits from Veterans Affairs.

Joshua Matticks, executive director of the Delaware Office of Veterans Services, said the changing definition of a veteran would be to keep Delaware aligned with the federal Veterans Affairs definition.

Because the last of the state’s three Korean War Veterans Association chapters closed last week after its members said they were too old to handle chapter duties, it’s being recommended that the organization lose its seat on the state commission and be made an at-large member. The commission seat would be filled by a member of the National Association for Black Veterans.

Related Story: Delaware’s last Korean War Veterans chapter to dissolve

The commission seat will be filled by a member of the National Association for Black Veterans. 

The change in commissioners is governed by Title 29, section 8720 of the Delaware Code and requires action by the governor, but is “really non-controversial” said David Mangler, a commissioner of the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs. It oversees Veterans Affairs.

The Commission will approach the General Assembly about the switch, and Mangler said he didn’t anticipate any disagreement in the House or Senate Veteran Affairs committees.

Also Monday, Nolan Lewis of The National Association for Black Veterans said he thought the commission should seek to raise the pay for Veterans’ cemetery employees and to allow family members of Veterans to work at the cemeteries.

Lewis said cemetery jobs are restricted to veterans, which makes it harder for the cemeteries to find workers.

That issue was brought to the General Assembly right before COVID-19 hit in 2020, but never gained traction, said Matticks.

Matticks said he doesn’t know how hard it would be to change rules to allow Veterans’ family members to work at cemeteries and he wasn’t sure why the issue hasn’t come up since 2020.

 Matticks said allowing Veterans’ family members to take jobs at the cemeteries could be used to get more people to work, but the state also has to meet federal guidelines.

“Will we get there one day? Maybe,” he said. “But you gotta take baby steps to get to that point and this will be our baby step forward.:

Pay is an internal matter that the office is working on, Matticks said. He offered to talk to Lewis about it privately.

Related Story: Veterans cemeteries want permission to move benches at will

Miranda Mal, communications officer with the Delaware Office of Veterans Services, said Veterans’ cemeteries are about 65% staffed, and they are posting new positions on the state jobs website later in April.

Mal said she can’t share pay rates, but noted that cemetery grounds workers are on the conservation technician career ladder, are 37.5-hour employees, and will have pay scales available on the state’s job website when the positions are posted.

The commission did not bring up asking for a bill that would allow veterans cemeteries to move benches at will. It cannot do that now.

An earlier version of this post mentioned federal officers when it should have referred to changing federal guidelines, incorrectly described the future of the Korean War Veterans Association seat and misstated David Mangler’s position.

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