When it comes to the burial of a person who served in the armed forces, it’s important that family members and friends know what their loved one is entitled to when it comes time to lay that person to rest. Many people are confused about the benefits that veterans are entitled to, making these 10 facts important to learn and understand:
Fact 1: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits do not cover all of the funeral or cremation arrangements of honorably discharged veterans
There are monetary, recognition, and service benefits that are available to this veteran’s family; however, reimbursement for funeral or cremation costs is limited. Typically this kind of reimbursement only applies to veterans who have:
- Retired from the armed services
- Were disabled in the line of duty
- Died in a VA hospital or nursing home while under VA contract
A family should do some research about the benefits that apply to their loved one, as these guidelines are meant to serve only as an overview.
Fact 2: You will need documentation to verify military service
In order to verify military service, you will most likely need to provide discharge papers. If the family does not have this paperwork available at the time of the individual’s death, the funeral home can help to secure this necessary information.
Fact 3: A veteran’s family needs to request an American flag
A flag is provided free of charge, and can be used to drape over the casket or accompany the urn of the veteran who has passed away. The flag is typically presented to the next of kin. In order to obtain this flag, the family should complete an Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes form and provide a copy of the veteran’s discharge papers.
Fact 4: Military funeral honors ceremonies need to be scheduled in advance
Federal law states that every eligible veteran must receive a military funeral honors ceremony, including the folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of taps, should the family request such a service.
Fact 5: Veterans’ caskets are not free of charge
Neither the VA nor the branches of the armed services offer a free casket for a deceased veteran, except in the instance that death occurred while on active duty.
Fact 6: A Presidential Memorial Certificate must be requested
The Presidential Memorial Certificate is an engraved paper certificate that is signed by the current president. It honors the memory of a deceased veteran. To receive this prestigious certificate, the family of the veteran can apply at any VA regional office or by U.S. mail.
Fact 7: For those veterans who are not buried in a VA national cemetery, monetary burial benefits are limited
Those who are buried in a private cemetery may be eligible for a partial reimbursement to cover burial costs. This typically includes a $700 burial allowance and a $700 plot allowance.
Fact 8: There are requirements that must be met in order to bury a person in a VA national cemetery
Those who died while on active duty and veterans who were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable are entitled to be buried in a VA national cemetery.
Fact 9: Headstones for burial space in a private ceremony must be requested
At no charge to the family, the VA will provide a government headstone or marker for the grave of a deceased eligible veteran.
Fact 10: Replacement military service medals or awards must be requested in writing
The next of kin is able to ask for replacements of awards or decorations. If the veteran is still alive, they must provide their signed authorization in order to allow family members to ask for replacements.
Understanding the benefits that your veteran is eligible for ensures that they get the kind of burial that fully acknowledges their service to their country.