Six Helpful Tips for Understanding Veteran Funeral Services

By: VGFS
Monday, July 3, 2023

Fully understanding veteran funeral services and benefits often requires guidance from experienced funeral professionals.

Members of the U.S. Armed Forces make tremendous personal sacrifices to protect our freedoms. As such, these heroes are entitled to a range of benefits at their final farewells. The funeral assistance available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are many and varied, but they can also be confusing. Understanding veteran funeral services does take time but it is a worthwhile effort.

To help you and your family members learn more about the benefits to which you may be entitled, we have compiled the following list of important facts.

1.     Documentation is required to verify military service.

A “Report of Separation from the Armed Forces of the United States,” also known as “discharge papers” or the “DD214” report, must first be submitted to verify military service and determine eligibility for veterans’ burial benefits. Your funeral director can assist you in securing this documentation.

2.     The option to receive a military funeral honors ceremony is required by law.

Upon the family’s request, every eligible veteran is entitled to receive military funeral honors at no cost. This ceremony must be scheduled in advance. It includes the folding and presentation of the United States flag, the playing of “Taps”, a rifle volley, and an honors detail with at least two military personnel. Vaughn Greene Funeral Services works with various veterans’ organizations to assist in the provision of military funeral honors.

3.     VA benefits do not cover all funeral or cremation expenses.

Numerous monetary, recognition, and service benefits may be available for honorably discharged military veterans. However, reimbursement for funeral or cremation service expenses is limited and generally only applies to veterans who: retire from the Armed Services; were disabled due to a service-related injury; or who passed away in a VA hospital or nursing home under VA contract. Vaughn Greene Funeral Services is pleased to offer special pricing to all veterans.

4.     Eligibility requirements exist for burial in a VA national cemetery.

Any member of the United States Armed Forces 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. This benefit includes:

  • An assigned gravesite (if space is available)
  • Opening and closing of the grave
  • A grave liner for casketed remains
  • A government headstone or marker
  • Perpetual care at no cost to the family

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 VA national cemeteries only allow arrangements to be made at the time of death and cannot be made in advance. Therefore, there is no guarantee that spouses or other family members will be buried side by side.

5.     Headstones or markers for a burial space in private cemeteries are available.

Upon request, the VA will furnish a government headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world. Any deceased Veteran who was discharged from the U.S. armed forces under conditions other than dishonorable is eligible for this benefit and it is provided at no charge to the applicant. Upright headstones, flat grave markers, and niche plaques for cremated remains can be provided. For assistance in securing, completing, and submitting the required documentation, please reach out to your funeral director.

6.     A Presidential Memorial Certificate may be requested.

This military honors program was initiated in 1962 by then-President John F. Kennedy. The Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC) is a gold-embossed paper certificate that bears the signature of the current U.S. President and honors the memory of honorably discharged, deceased veterans. Eligible recipients include the next of kin and loved ones of honorably discharged veterans. Your funeral director can assist your family in obtaining this certificate.

Vaughn Greene Funeral Services is proud to serve the military veterans in our community. If you need additional help understanding veteran funeral services, wish to learn more about our military discounts, or require assistance with arrangements, please contact our caring professionals.

About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 25 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 provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. For more information about our funeral, cremation, memorial, repast, and grief counseling services, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.

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