Celebrating Veteran’s Day by Guiding Funeral Services and Memorial Options for Veterans and Military Families
November 9, 2023
As we prepare to celebrate Veterans Day, it is an appropriate time for Arlington to provide information that is sometimes frustratingly opaque for veterans or veteran families. Rather than scratching and digging for information, we prefer that veterans have information at their fingertips transparently. So, in this blog, we celebrate Veterans Day by hoping to eliminate roadblocks to essential information.
In the solemn moments following the loss of a veteran, understanding the available options for funeral services and memorials becomes crucial. One of our fundamental beliefs is that veterans and military families should proactively explore their opportunities to understand the significant impact of veterans’ benefits when coupled with thoughtful pre-arrangements, including rounding up essential documents.
Veterans Day is when we honor and recognize that veterans have dedicated themselves to protecting their country. They have sacrificed greatly for their country, and acknowledging their service should be more than mere lip service. In Arlington’s opinion, ensuring their final journey reflects their service is a matter of national obligation. Exploring funeral services tailored to military personnel provides a fitting tribute to their commitment.
The array of benefits available to veterans (such as pension programs, disability compensation, healthcare services, education assistance, home loan guarantees, life insurance, vocational rehabilitation & employment, dependent & survivor benefits, burial benefits, and military honors) can be overwhelming. Investing time in due diligence to understand these benefits is self-evident once you can put those benefits to work. Pre-arranging funerals and planning to use burial allowances, honors, and memorial items ensure that the family receives the full extent of the support to which they are entitled.
The critical benefit document is DD214, issued by the Department of Defense. (the “DD Form 214” is the Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty). It is the inevitable cornerstone in accessing veterans’ benefits. Securing this document and including it in pre-arrangements streamlines the process, alleviating potential stress for grieving families.
Veteran’s benefits frequently provide financial assistance for funeral expenses. Families can alleviate the financial burden during a challenging time by making pre-arrangements, allowing them to focus on honoring their loved one’s memory.
Understanding memorial options tailored for veterans, such as military honors, flag presentations, and the availability of burial in national cemeteries, enables families to create a personalized and meaningful farewell that resonates with the veteran’s service.
Pre-arranging and proactively planning funeral and memorial services ensures a dignified farewell and allows veterans to express their wishes. This thoughtful preparation can bring peace of mind to veterans and their families.
Navigating funeral services and memorials for veterans requires careful consideration and pre-arrangements. The impact of veterans’ benefits and understanding the significance of documents like the DD214 cannot be overstated. By approaching these matters with foresight, military families can honor their loved ones with the respect and gratitude they deserve.
Here are some frequently asked questions:
Are Veteran funeral expenses entirely covered?
It depends. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides specific benefits to assist with funeral costs but may not cover all expenses. For instance, the VA offers a burial allowance to reimburse eligible veterans’ burial and funeral costs. The amount varies based on whether the death was service-related, non-service-related, or if the veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery. For deaths related to military service, the VA may cover the entire cost of burial in a national cemetery, provide a grave marker, and offer a burial flag. Some additional expenses, like transportation costs for remains to be transferred to a national cemetery, may also be covered. In non-service-related deaths, the VA burial allowance is provided to help offset funeral and burial expenses. The amount is subject to change and is designed to cover a portion of the overall costs. Veterans buried in a VA national cemetery receive benefits at no cost to the family. These benefits may include the gravesite, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a government headstone or marker, and a burial flag.
Please note that we advise veterans or their families to contact the VA or visit their official website for the most up-to-date information on burial benefits and eligibility criteria. Additionally, pre-arranging and understanding these benefits can help ensure a smoother process during a difficult time. The Arlington Funeral Home can assist in acquiring this information and walking through the benefit process.
What happens at a veteran’s funeral?
A veteran’s funeral often includes several elements to honor their military service:
Military Honors: A military honor guard may perform ceremonial rites, including folding and presenting the American flag to the next of kin. A gun salute may also be part of the honors.
Taps: The playing of “Taps,” a bugle call, is a solemn and traditional part of military funerals, symbolizing the end of the day or the final farewell.
Flag Presentation: The veteran’s casket is draped with an American flag, carefully folded, and presented to the next of kin as a gesture of gratitude for the veteran’s service.
Funeral Procession: A procession, often including a hearse and accompanying vehicles, may proceed to the burial site. This may involve a procession with a military escort if the veteran is interred in a national cemetery.
National Cemetery Burial: Veterans interred in a national cemetery receive certain benefits, including a gravesite, opening and closing of the grave, a government headstone or marker, and perpetual care.
Military Chaplain or Officiant: A military chaplain or an officiant familiar with military traditions may lead the funeral service, offering words of comfort and honoring the veteran’s life and service.
Memorial Items: Veterans may be entitled to additional memorial items, such as a memorial certificate and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, often signed by the President of the United States.
What are the military survivor’s benefits?
Military survivor’s benefits support the spouses, children, and dependents of deceased military service members. Some critical survivor’s benefits include:
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC): DIC is a tax-free monthly benefit for surviving spouses, children, and certain dependents of service members who died in the line of duty, or veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease.
Survivor’s Pension: The Survivor’s Pension, also known as the Death Pension, is a needs-based benefit for low-income surviving spouses and unmarried children of deceased wartime veterans.
Educational Assistance: The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program provides education and training opportunities to eligible dependents of veterans who are permanently and totally disabled or died due to a service-related condition.
Home Loan Guaranty: The surviving spouse of a veteran may be eligible for a VA-guaranteed home loan to purchase, build, repair, or adapt a home.
Healthcare Benefits: Certain surviving spouses and dependents may be eligible for healthcare benefits through the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA).
Burial Benefits: Burial benefits, including burial in a national cemetery, a grave marker, and a burial flag, may be provided for the surviving spouse or dependent children of deceased veterans.
Traumatic Injury Protection Under Service Members’ Group Life Insurance (TSGLI):
If a service member dies due to a traumatic injury, the surviving spouse and dependent children may be eligible for benefits under TSGLI.
Note: Survivors need to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or visit their official website to determine eligibility and apply for these benefits. Each program has specific criteria, and the benefits provided can vary based on the circumstances of the service member’s death and the survivor’s relationship with the veteran.
What documents are needed to apply for veteran funeral services?
DD214 Form: The DD214 form is a crucial document that verifies a veteran’s military service. It includes information such as dates of service, awards received, and discharge status. It is essential for accessing various veteran benefits, including funeral services.
Death Certificate: A certified copy of the death certificate is needed to confirm the passing of the veteran. This document is often required for processing burial and funeral-related benefits.
Funeral Home Agreement/Itemized Statement: The funeral home agreement or itemized statement outlines the details and costs of the funeral services. This document helps in determining eligibility for burial benefits and reimbursement.
Marriage Certificate (if applicable): If the surviving spouse is applying for benefits, a marriage certificate may be required to establish the relationship with the deceased veteran.
Birth Certificates of Dependent Children (if applicable): Birth certificates of dependent children may be necessary to establish their eligibility for certain benefits.
Insurance Policies: Information about any existing life insurance policies held by the veteran, if applicable, may be needed.
Cemetery Information: If the veteran is not buried in a national cemetery, details about the cemetery where the veteran will be interred, including proof of ownership of the burial plot, may be required.
Note: It’s advisable to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or the local VA office to confirm the specific documentation required, as the requirements may vary based on factors such as the type of burial, whether it’s in a national cemetery and the circumstances of the veteran’s service. Gathering and organizing these documents in advance can help streamline the application process during a challenging time. The very best time to secure these documents is during pre-arrangements.