May 03, 2016
This week, the National Funeral Directors Association held it’s annual Advocacy Summit in Washington DC. This event brings together funeral directors from across the country who are passionate about supporting families through progressive legislature. At this year’s summit, directors and state association leaders met with congress members to discuss extending burial rights to veterans and families of fallen service members as well as securing lump sum social security benefits for families with limited funds.
The 2016 Advocacy Summit was the 25th anniversary of this event, which takes place every year in Washington DC. Most people don’t know that many funeral directors take time out of their busy schedules to communicate with lawmakers about important issues that affect the families they serve. It was obvious that directors who attended this conference were not concerned with receiving credit or recognition for their efforts. They are committed to working behind the scenes to help influence reform. By supporting these initiatives and giving a voice to families in need, funeral directors play an active role in fueling positive change.
This was ASD’s first time attending the summit and we loved hearing stories shared by directors about valuable connections they made or meaningful conversations they had while on Capital Hill. Before the event kicked off officially, NFDA leaders came to Washington early to prep congress for the summit. According to NFDA President, Bob Arrington, this was one of the factors that made this year’s event the most successful summit ever. In previous years, the summit was held in the winter but this year it was moved to spring, which proved to be very beneficial for funeral professionals in attendance. Many directors commented that they were able to meet directly with more congress members than ever before. Here are some of the photos funeral professionals shared online of their meetings with Congress.
Here are some of the photos funeral professionals shared online of their meetings with Congress.
To view more photos from the event, search for the hashtag #NFDAinDC or visit the NFDA Advocacy Summit photography site.
We must commend the NFDA for their leadership and organization, which created a very supportive environment for directors attending the summit. Attendees were provided with a concise and informative pamphlet that explained all of the different legislative priorities, making it easy for directors to review these details with congress members. The NFDA also partnered with a DC-based consultant group to give guidance to funeral directors who were attending the summit for the first time. By helping directors make introductions and navigate Capital Hill, this partnership proved to be very beneficial for everyone attending.
Indeed, the NFDA has taken great strides to make it easier for directors to get involved with advocacy, even if they can’t attend the annual summit. The association provides a great deal of information about current issues and how funeral directors can influence change by contacting congress members over the phone or by sending a letter. Visit the NFDA Advocacy website to learn more about these 2016 issues and how you can show your support:
H.R. 1911 – Increase Value of VA Funeral and Burial Benefits
H.R. 1109 – Social Security Lump-Sum Death Benefit Improvement and Modernization Act of 2015
H.R. 250 – The Families of Fallen Servicemembers First Act
After meeting with lawmakers, the NFDA hosted the Capital Reception on Congress Hill. This allowed funeral professionals to invite legislators to an exclusive cocktail party in their honor. It was wonderful to see so many congress members in attendances and for directors to have an opportunity to speak with them in a relaxed and social atmosphere. During the reception, the NFDA honored Funeral Director, Bob Shank, who was instrumental in establishing the advocacy summit and has attended every summit since it was founded. Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) presented Bob with a flag flown over the Capitol and a letter of appreciation for his dedication to advocacy and funeral service.
The last event held during the NFDA Advocacy Summit truly captured what this summit is all about and why directors come to Washington every year. A visit to Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a moving reminder of why it is so important to pay proper tribute to those who sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. It doesn’t matter if you have visited Arlington one or hundreds of times in your life, it is impossible not to be affected by seeing row upon row upon row of those white rectangular stones jutting up from the ground. So many lives were sacrificed so we could enjoy our way of life and a trip to Arlington really puts this into perspective.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier serves as a reminder of the importance of showing respect and deference in honoring our fallen service members. It was raining that day, but despite the weather conditions the soldiers that guarded the tomb never faltered in their display of reverence. We were honored to be in attendance during the NFDA Wreath Laying Ceremony at the tomb. It was very moving to see NFDA President, Bob Arrington, and Judy Arrington, represent the funeral service profession in paying tribute to our nation’s fallen servicemen and women. It was a very affecting ceremony for all in attendance and we hope this video captures that.
Congratulations to the NFDA on 25 years of advocacy! We tip our hats to everyone there for organizing this event and bringing directors together to promote positive change. It is truly an important and impactful event that will likely attract even more funeral professionals in the coming years. We are looking forward to learning how families in the future will benefit from the seeds planted by directors at this year’s summit.
The 2016 NFDA Business Conference
If you couldn’t make it to the advocacy summit, the NFDA has another great event lined up this month to help funeral directors take the guesswork out of their firm’s finances. There is still time to register for the NFDA Business Conference which will take place May 12-13 at the NFDA Headquarters in Wisconsin. ASD’s Operations Manager, Sharon Batten, and Operations Supervisor, Jen Hoban, will be in attendance. We hope ot see you there! To learn more, click here.
About The Author
Jess Farren (Fowler)
Jess Farren (Fowler) is a Public Relations Specialist and Staff Writer who has been a part of the ASD team since 2003. Jess manages ASD’s company blog and has been published in several funeral trade magazines. She has written articles on a variety of subjects including communication, business planning, technology, marketing and funeral trends. You can contact Jess directly at Jess@myASD.com