(a) The commissioner of veterans affairs shall collect and maintain data about Minnesota residents who have died of service-connected causes while serving in the United States armed forces. The data may include deceased service members who are the immediate family members of Minnesota residents, but who themselves were not Minnesota residents at the time of death. The commissioner shall collect the following data: the individual's full name, military rank, branch of service, age at the time of death, and Minnesota hometown or if not a Minnesota resident at the time of death, the service member's home state.
(b) Data collected pursuant to this section are nonpublic data, but may be disseminated to the individual's next of kin, and for ceremonial or honorary purposes to veterans' organizations, civic organizations, the news media, and researchers. No other use or dissemination of the data is permitted.
(c) The next of kin of a veteran whose data is collected may request that the data not be disseminated for any purpose. Upon receiving such a request, the Department of Veterans Affairs must exclude the deceased veteran's data from any data disseminated for ceremonial or honorary purposes as permitted by paragraph (b).
(d) Data collected pursuant to this section shall not be indicative of any person's status with regard to qualification for veterans benefits or other benefits.