Family of Army Veteran Still Waiting for Arlington National Cemetery Burial

Four years after he was killed, Rick and Dawn Collins are waiting to have a request approved that would allow their son to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. With the backing of Maryland lawmakers, the couple submitted a request for an exception to the policy after being told their son wasn’t eligible. 

Richard Collins III, 23, had just been commissioned into the Army as a second lieutenant when he was killed by Sean Urbanski, a former University of Maryland student who stabbed and killed him at a bus stip. In January, Urbanski was sentenced to life in prison for what prosecutors said was a racially motivated hate crime.

Collins was killed three days  before he was set to graduate from Bowie State University, a historically Black college located roughly 11 miles away from the University of Maryland. 

In 2019, Maryland U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin introduced legislation that said a ROTC graduate who dies before receiving their first duty assignment “shall be treated as a member of the Armed Forces who dies on active duty.” 

That legislation was included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, but only applied to future instances. The next year, however, an amendment was included in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act which made the new policy retroactive to May 1, 2017, and therefore able to be applied to Richard’s death. 

“Lt. Richard Collins’ family will finally receive the much-deserved recognition of their son’s commitment and dedication to the Army and serving our nation,” Cardin said in July 2020. “While we pray no family has to endure the loss experienced by the Collins family, we hope this will set a precedent for the future.”

But according to the publication Task and Purpose,  his family is still awaiting word that Collins can be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.