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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -
The Department of Veterans Affairs has granted burial rights to the wife of an Air Force veteran, even though she was a civilian.
Lt. Col. Linda Campbell lost her wife, Nancy Lynchild, to breast cancer last December.
The Oregon couple will become the first same-sex couple buried together in a national military cemetery in which one member of the couple was not a veteran.
Veterans and their spouses have burial rights in military cemeteries, but the federal government would not recognize the same-sex couple's marriage.
"I am deeply grateful to my country for honoring and respecting my years of service and my relationship with Nancy, the love of my life," said Campbell, a veteran of 25 years. "Willamette National Cemetery is a beautiful, peaceful place. Knowing that Nancy and I can join my parents on that hallowed ground is a source of great comfort and healing."
Nine months after Campbell decided to seek a designation of burial eligibility, the Department of Veterans Affairs granted the request.
"Our veterans have stood up for us and we must stand up for them when they need it most. That's why I wanted to stand up for Linda and Nancy during this difficult period and get them the fairness and equality they deserve. Their love and commitment to each other and Linda's push for equality are the reasons that this burial waiver was granted," said Oregon's Sen. Jeff Merkley, who supported the couple's request to be buried together.
The Bureau of Labor and Industries Commissioner Brad Avakian also asked the federal government to grant Lynchild burial rights.
"It's been one of the great honors of my life meeting and working with Lt. Col. Linda Campbell and Nancy Lynchild. I was immediately inspired by their sense of service and am deeply grateful for this decision," said Commissioner Brad Avakian.
Lynchild's ashes will be buried during a private ceremony at the cemetery.
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