Commemorating those who have served
All veterans qualify for military funeral honors and many veteran benefits, regardless of their rank or the place of burial.
The following groups are also eligible for military 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 a period of initial obligated service in the Selected Reserve, and who 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.
Military Funeral Benefits
The following information is taken from the Estate Planning Tool Kit for Military and Family Members and reformatted for easier reading.
Those who serve in the military may be eligible for special funeral and burial benefits because of their honorable service. Usually, a Casualty Assistance Officer will assist the active duty military member's survivor(s) with funeral arrangements and explain benefits.
Military funeral honors: As of January 1, 2000, all eligible veterans including military retirees, are entitled to military funeral honors if requested by a surviving family member. Usually, the funeral honors ceremony will include the folding and presentation of an American flag and the playing of Taps. At least two uniformed military personnel, in addition to a bugler (if available), shall perform the ceremony. If a bugler isn't available, a high-grade CD will be used.
Ordinarily, funeral directors rather than the next of kin arrange for military honors by calling toll free 1-877-MIL-HONR (645-4667) to coordinate the ceremonies. The Department of Defense Military Funeral Honors has information on military funerals including frequently asked questions, eligibility, services provided, the law and links to related websites. The Retired Officers Association (TROA) publishes TAPs, A Guide to Military Oriented Burials.
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) burial and memorial benefits: For active duty soldier deaths, the next of kin may request a primary burial allowance (up to $1750 to cover the expenses of recovery, preparation, casketing and transportation of the body) and an interment allowance (ranging from $110 to $3100 depending on whether the soldier is buried in a private cemetery or a national cemetery and whether a funeral home service is used). For eligibility information call Toll-Free 1-800-827-1000 or visit www.military.com.
Headstone or grave marker: The VA furnishes, upon request, at no charge, a headstone or marker for the grave of an eligible veteran. Headstones and markers are provided for eligible spouses and dependents of veterans only in national, military post or state veterans cemeteries. Flat bronze, flat granite or flat marble markers and upright granite or marble headstones are available. The style must be consistent with the cemetery's rules. Any deceased veteran discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces, other than with a dishonorable discharge, is eligible for a Government headstone or marker. For enlisted members whose service began after September 7, 1980 and for officers whose service began after October 7, 1981, service must have been for at least 24 months or the period for which the person was called to active duty.
The Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC) Program: The VA administers the PMC Program. The certificate has the President's signature and expresses the country's grateful recognition of the veteran's service. Eligible recipients may apply through the nearest VA regional office. Eligible recipients include the next of kin, other relatives or a friend.
Burial in national and state cemeteries: Interment of an eligible person is authorized in any national cemetery where space is available. Assignment of space is made only when burial arrangements are completed.
Burial flag: A US flag is provided free to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran who served honorably in the U. S. Armed Forces. It's furnished to honor the memory of a veteran's military service to his or her country. Generally, the flag is given to the next-of-kin as a keepsake, after its use during the funeral service. Usually, the funeral director will help obtain a burial flag. See the VA's Burial Flags for more information.
Cemeteries: The VA National Cemetery Administration maintains 119 national cemeteries in 39 states (and Puerto Rico ), as well as 33 soldier's lots and monument sites. A military funeral can easily be arranged at any of these places.