Six Important Things You May Not Know about Veterans’ Burial Benefits

By: VGFS
Sunday, October 25, 2020

Military veterans make significant sacrifices to protect the freedoms we enjoy. In recognition of this heroism, it is customary to honor their passing with military funeral pageantry.

Read on for some essential things you should know about military burial benefits so you can arrange the respectful, dignified ceremony your loved one so richly deserves. 

1. The ceremony is provided at no cost to the family.

The U.S. Department of Defense is legally required to give every eligible veteran a free military funeral honors ceremony upon the family's request. These benefits include:

  • Folding and presenting the United States burial flag to the next of kin
  • A rifle salute that consists of three to seven volleys, depending upon the rank of the deceased
  • The playing of Taps, either with a live bugler or via a ceremonial bugle accompanied by a recording
  • An honors detail with two or more uniformed military persons, one of whom must be a member of the veteran's branch of the armed forces

Depending upon the veteran’s service level, additional traditional remembrance elements may be included, such as a horse-drawn carriage, a fly-over by fighter jets in missing man formation, or a military band and escort platoon.

2. The VA does not cover all veterans' funeral expenses.

While every eligible veteran can receive a military honors ceremony, the costs of the funeral or cremation arrangements are rarely fully funded by the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA). However, the VA will pay for funeral expenses if the service member was killed in the line of duty.

3. You may be eligible to receive a funeral allowance.

When the cause of a veteran’s death is not service-related, the VA reimbursement is available in two payments: up to $300 toward burial and funeral expenses, and plot interment allowance of approximately $800 if the veteran was receiving a pension. The VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for service-related deaths.

4. Documentation is required.

Your loved one's military discharge papers, death certificate, and any receipts for the cost of transporting the body must be provided to secure veterans' funeral benefits. Your funeral director will be happy to assist you with submitting the documentation and completing the required VA paperwork.

5. Most members of the military are eligible for burial in a veteran’s cemetery.

Generally, any member of the U.S. Armed Forces who dies while on active duty or any veteran discharged under conditions other than dishonorable is entitled to burial or inurnment in a VA national state veterans cemetery. This burial benefit includes:

  • An assigned gravesite
  • Opening and closing of the grave
  • A grave liner for casketed remains
  • A government headstone or marker
  • Perpetual care at no cost

Please note that space in VA national cemeteries may not be reserved in advance. Arrangements must be made at the time of death, and spaces are assigned based on availability. 

6. Headstones or markers may also be provided.

Upon request, the VA will furnish a government headstone or marker for the grave of the eligible deceased veteran in any cemetery at no cost. Upright headstones are available in granite and marble; flat markers are available in granite, marble, and bronze; and niche plaques for cremated remains can also be provided. 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. Your funeral director can help you secure and complete this document.

We are honored to serve you.

The caring staff at Vaughn Greene Funeral Services is committed to providing military veterans and their families with deeply meaningful and respectful ceremonies. Our experienced funeral directors will also help your family manage the many details involved in the military funeral planning process. You can rely on us to arrange a final farewell that graciously and appropriately reflects your loved one’s legacy.

The story of every veteran’s life deserves to be shared and celebrated. If you have questions, would like additional information, or need to make final arrangements, please contact our caring professionals anytime.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 20 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore's African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to deliver our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.

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