Helpful Information for Families of Veterans- Death Benefits
Quick Reference and Helpful links for veteran's benefits.
Military Funeral Honors have always been provided whenever possible. However, the law now mandates the rendering of Military Funeral Honors for an eligible veteran if requested by the family. As provided by law, an honor guard detail for the burial of an eligible veteran shall consist of not less than two members of the Armed Forces. One member of the detail shall be a representative of the parent Service of the deceased veteran. The honor detail will, at a minimum, perform a ceremony that includes the folding and presenting of the American flag to the next of kin and the playing of Taps. Taps will be played by a bugler, if available, or by electronic recording. Today, there are so few buglers available that the Military Services often cannot provide one.
Who Qualifies for Military Funeral Honors?
Military members on active duty or in the Selected Reserve.
- Former military members who served on active duty and departed under conditions other than dishonorable.
- Former military members who completed at least one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service in the Selected Reserve and departed under conditions other than dishonorable.
- Former military members discharged from the Selected Reserve due to a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.
What are the Services Provided at a Military Honors Funeral?
The core elements of the funeral honors ceremony, which will be conducted are:
- Flag folding
- Flag presentation
- Playing of Taps
The veteran’s parent Service representative will present the flag.
In the past 20 years, annual interments in national cemeteries have nearly doubled to over 70,000 per year and the rate of increase is projected to continue into the early part of the next century as our country’s population of military veterans grows older. Many of these cemeteries are at, or near, capacity and all existing national cemeteries are expected to be full by the year 2020. The cemeteries that are full, however, can still accept cremation burials or inurnment of cremains in columbarium. The NCS states that efforts are under way to acquire additional cemetery lands, adjacent to existing national cemeteries whenever possible.
One of the things of which veterans should be aware is that a burial site cannot be reserved. You can’t even apply for a site until the time of death. So it’s possible that the national cemetery closest to home might already be full and the veteran would be interred hundred of miles away. This potential problem can be compounded by overcrowding so that a spouse or other family members might not be buried next to the veteran.
Interment in a national cemetery is available to all members and veterans (if not dishonorably discharged) of the United States armed forces; spouses; widows and widowers who did not remarry; minor children; and- under certain conditions- unmarried adult children. Also eligible are members of the armed forces reserves who die while on active duty and training for, or performing in, the duties of the reserves or who have 20 years of service in the reserves.
While the NCS does not arrange for the funerals, it does offer a wide range of benefits at taxpayers’ expense including the opening and closing of the grave sites. Also provided are headstones or markers.
If the person is to be buried in a cemetery other than a national, military post, or state veterans’ cemetery, the headstone or marker must be applied for through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) - formerly known as the Veterans Administration. In such instances, the headstone or maker will be shipped at government expense but the family must pay the cost of installation.
The VA will pay eligible recipients up to a $1500 burial allowance if the veteran’s death is service-related, and will pay the cost of shipping the remains to the national cemetery nearest the veteran’s home. The VA will pay $300 for funeral and burial expenses for those veterans who were eligible to receive pension or compensation at the time of death. Also the VA will pay $150 for a burial plot when the veteran is not buried in a cemetery that’s under the jurisdiction of the United States government.