What to Expect
Grief & Healing
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U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits do not cover all the funeral or cremation arrangements of honorably discharged veterans.
There are certain monetary, recognition and service benefits that may be available. However, reimbursement for funeral or cremation service expenses is limited, and usually only applies to veterans who:
Standard guidelines are provided as an overview, but only the VA can rule on your exact benefits.
You will need documentation to verify military service.
A “Report of Separation from the Armed Forces of the United States,” also known as “discharge papers,” is normally required to verify military service. In most cases, this report is the DD 214. If your family does not have form DD 214 at the time of death, we will be glad to help secure one.
A veteran’s family must request a United States flag.
A flag is provided at no cost to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran. Generally, the flag is given to the next of kin. Only one flag may be provided per veteran. Upon the request of the family, an “Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes” (VA Form 21-2008) must be submitted along with a copy of the veteran’s discharge papers. Flags may be obtained from VA regional offices and most U.S. Post Offices. For your family’s convenience, we will request your flag and have it present for the services.
Military Funeral Honors ceremonies must be scheduled in advance.
The law requires that every eligible veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, which includes the folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of “taps,” upon the family’s request.
This Department of Defense program calls for the funeral director to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veteran’s family. We will coordinate with the veterans organizations to assist in the provision of military funeral honors.
Veterans’ caskets are not free.
As a standard policy, neither the VA nor the various branches of service provide a free casket for a deceased veteran, unless death occurs while on active duty.
A “Presidential Memorial Certificate” must be requested.
Initiated in March 1962 by President John F. Kennedy, a “Presidential Memorial Certificate” is an engraved paper certificate, signed by the current President, to honor the memory of honorably discharged, deceased veterans.
Eligible recipients, or someone acting on their behalf, may apply in person at any VA regional office or by U.S. mail.
The funeral directors at DeVito Funeral Homes can assist your family in obtaining this certificate.
If you choose not to be buried in a VA national cemetery, monetary burial benefits are limited.
Veterans buried in a private cemetery may be eligible to receive a partial reimbursement for their burial costs. For non-service related deaths, a burial expense allowance (up to $700) and a plot allowance (up to $700) may be given. In order to receive a VA burial allowance you must meet the following conditions:
In addition, at least one of the following conditions must be met:
In order to determine the final reimbursement amount, an “Application for Burial Benefits” (VA Form 21-530) must be submitted within two years from the date of the veteran’s permanent burial. If your family does not have the form 21-530 at the time of death, we will be glad to help obtain one.
There are eligibility requirements for burial in a VA national cemetery.
Any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who dies while on active duty or any veteran who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable is entitled to burial in a VA national cemetery. Under certain conditions, the non remarried surviving spouse and minor children of an eligible person are also entitled to this benefit.
Burial in a VA national cemetery includes:
Cremated remains are buried or inurned in VA national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains.
It is important to note that you may not reserve space in a VA national cemetery ahead of time, since VA national cemeteries only allow arrangements to be made at the time of a death. Therefore, if you do not choose burial in a private cemetery, there is no guarantee that spouses or other family members will be buried side by side, or even nearby.
Additionally, you should note that burials in VA national cemeteries usually are not conducted on weekends and, depending on the VA cemetery, there may be a waiting period before burial can occur.
In addition, non-veteran parents may be interred in a national cemetery with their child if that child was killed in combat and has no other eligible survivors. In order for such burial to occur, an official must determine that there is available space.
Headstones or markers for a burial space in a private cemetery must be requested.
The VA, upon request and at no charge to the applicant, will furnish a government headstone or marker for the grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world. Upright headstones are available in granite and marble, and flat markers are available in granite, marble and bronze. The style must be consistent with existing monuments or markers at the place of burial. Niche markers for cremated remains are also available.
An “Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker for Installation in a Private or State Veteran’s Cemetery” (VA Form 40-1330) must be submitted. We will provide this form to assist the families in choosing and applying for a marker.
The issuance or replacement of military service medals, awards and decorations must be requested in writing.
Military service medals, awards and decorations are available from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). Family members may request medals and awards for living veterans only if they have obtained their signed authorization. For deceased veterans, requests will be accepted from the next-of-kin.
Requests should be submitted in writing to the appropriate military service branch division of the NPRC. Standard form (SF 180), available through the VA, is recommended to submit your request. Generally, there is no charge for medal or award replacements. For more information, or for the mailing address of the military branch office to submit your request to, call 1-86-NARA-NARA (1-866-272-6272) or visit the NPRC website at www.archives.gov.
If your family does not have form SF 180 at the time of death, we will help obtain one.
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