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Veterans’ Funerals and What You Need to Know October 14, 2020

veteran-funeral-benefits-bateman-allen-funeral-home

At Bateman-Allen Funeral Home, we have a passion for helping our local veterans. We’ve served veterans and their families for over 70 years and will always proudly carry on the tradition. We view it as a sacred obligation to ensure US veterans are laid to rest with the honor and dignity they deserve. 

Sometimes, veterans and their families have questions about eligibility, expenses, honors, benefits, and more. Let’s run through some details to answer your questions. 

Veteran Burial Benefit Eligibility

First, let’s talk about who’s eligible for the funeral and burial benefits granted to a veteran. Burial and memorial honors, mandated by law, are free of charge for eligible veterans who wish to take advantage of them. Below are the eligibility requirements:

  • Military members who have met a minimum active duty service requirement or were in the Selected Reserve.
  • Former military members who served on active duty and departed under honorable conditions.
  • Former military members who completed at least one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service in the Selected Reserve and departed under honorable conditions.
  • Former military members discharged from the Selected Reserve due to a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.
  • Members of the reserve components of the armed forces who die while on active duty or who die while on training duty, or were eligible for retired pay, may also be eligible for burial.

There’s an added benefit to a veteran’s spouse, widow or widower, minor dependent children, and (under certain conditions) unmarried adult children with disabilities. Eligible relatives may be buried even if they predecease the veteran. If the requirements are met, benefits for burial or cremation will be honored. This gives the family peace of mind that the whole immediate family will be taken care of when the time comes.

The DD 214 Discharge Certification

The most important thing you’ll need to have to ensure eligibility is a copy of your Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. Also known as the “DD 214,” this certificate is issued by the United States Department of Defense upon a military service member’s retirement, separation, or discharge from active duty in the armed forces of the United States.  

If you don’t have your DD 214, don’t worry! Contact us below and we’ll get it sorted out for you.

Veteran Burial Honors

We take veteran funeral and burial honors very seriously at Bateman-Allen Funeral Home. We ensure that everything is executed perfectly to respect the sacrifice the veteran gave to our country. Several traditional military honors may be arranged for a fallen patriot once eligibility of these benefits is verified. 

Check them out below:

  • U.S. Burial Flag draped over the casket and given to the next of kin following the service
  • Family Flag-Folding Presentation Service with the burial flag presented to the Next of Kin
  • A Final Salute at the gravesite by Honor Guard Personnel
  • Three-gun Volley (if eligible depending on rank when discharged to represent duty, honor, and Country)
  • Honor Guard at funeral home or cemetery
  • Playing of Taps by a lone bugler or an audio recording
  • Presidential Memorial Certificate: This is a certificate expressing the nation’s recognition of the veteran’s service. The veteran’s name is inscribed, and the certificate bears the signature of the president.

Finally, eligible veterans may be honored with burial at a National Cemetery. The two national cemeteries local to Delaware County are the Washington Crossing National Cemetery and the Indiantown Gap National Cemetery. We work closely with the families of fallen patriots to make sure all the benefits due to them for their distinguished service are provided and executed properly. 

How Veterans Can Prepare for a Burial in a National Cemetery

Burial benefits for veterans include a gravesite in any of the 141 national cemeteries in the United States with available space, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a Government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate. All of this comes at no cost to the family. Some veterans may also be eligible for burial allowances(certain requirements must bet met). Cremated remains are buried or inurned in national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains. 

It’s always best to plan ahead of time to ensure your benefits and wishes are in order for when the benefits are utilized. However, you may not technically reserve space in a VA National Cemetery ahead of time. VA National Cemeteries only allow arrangements to be made at the time fo death. So if you are not choosing burial in a private cemetery, there is no guarantee that spouses or other family members were be interred side-by-side, or even nearby. Contact your local, independently-owned funeral home, like us, to help you preplan everything. This keeps any burden, paperwork, and stress away from family members during a time of mourning. We can help your family contact the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to confirm eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery at the time of need. 

 To plan a burial, we’ll help you fax or email all discharge documentation to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-866-900-6417 and follow-up with a phone call to 1-800-535-1117. If you, for some reason, decide not to preplan with us, you should advise your family of your wishes and where your discharge papers are kept. We’ll say again, these papers are very important in establishing your benefit eligibility. So make sure you know where they are or contact us to help you receive them from the government.

What the VA Does Not Provide in Veteran Burial Benefits

Although there are many benefits that the VA provides our servicemen and servicewomen, there are some requests that the VA does not offer. The first is paying for the cremation. The VA does not pay for cremation directly. Any item or service obtained from a funeral home will be at the families’ expense. Some veterans’ families may be entitled to a very small burial allowance, though, which may cover some of the expenses. 

The VA also does not provide burial at sea. However, if an active-duty service member or veteran was buried at sea, they may be eligible for a headstone or marker. 

Who is Buried At Arlington National Cemetery?

According to Military.com, only honorably discharged members in certain categories are eligible for burial in Arlington National Cemetery due to limited space. This includes:

  • Members who have died on active duty and their immediate family
  • Retirees and their immediate family
  • Recipients of the Purple Heart, or Silver Star and above
  • Any honorably discharged POW who died after Nov. 30, 1993

However, there is more space available for inurnment, where the storage of cremated remains is in a Columbarium or wall. Inurnment is limited to honorably discharged members including: 

  • All those listed above
  • Veterans and their immediate family
  • Reservists, National Guard, or Air National Guard members who die while on active duty for training or full-time service and their immediate family
  • Reserve or National Guard members with at least one day of active duty (other than for training) and who are qualified to collect retired pay

We recommend, upon the death of the veteran or eligible family member, that you contact a local funeral home to arrange for any desired services. Our direct line is (610) 876-5237.

What is the Presidential Memorial Certificate?

The Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC) is an engraved paper certificate, signed by the current President, to honor the memory of honorably discharged deceased Veterans. The program was initiated in March 1962 by President John F. Kennedy and as been continued by all subsequent presidents. 

veteran-presidential-memorial-certificate

The PMC is authorized for veterans who are eligible for burial in a national cemetery and meet the eligibility requirements mentioned above. To apply, contact your local funeral home. An eligible recipient (i.e. next of kin, a relative or friend upon request, or an authorized service representative acting on behalf of such relative or friend) may also apply for a PMC by completing a VA Form 40-0247, Presidential Memorial Certificate Request Form. More than one PMC may be requested. To expedite the processing of the claim, please submit the Veteran’s military discharge documents and death certificate. Do not send original documents, as they will not be returned.

If you have already requested a PMC more than sixteen (16) weeks ago and have not received it yet, please call 202-632-7300 to find out the status of your request. Please do not send a second application unless they request you to do so.

You must request headstones, markers, or medallions for a burial space in a private cemetery

Any deceased veteran discharged under conditions other than dishonorable is eligible for a standard Government headstone, marker, or medallion. The VA, upon request and at no charge to the applicant, will furnish a Government headstone or marker for the grave in any cemetery around the world. A bronze medallion in several sizes is also available to be placed on existing privately purchased headstones or markers. The Government is not responsible for costs associated with affixing the medallion to the privately purchased headstone or marker.

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 for headstones or markers. VA Form 40-1330M must be submitted requesting the medallion. You can reach out to us to help facilitate these forms!

How to receive your veteran burial flag

If you are one of the honorable men or women that are eligible for the burial flag, first of all, thank you for your service. 

A United States flag is provided, at no cost, to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran who served honorably in the US Armed Forces. The red, white, and blue of the American flag covering their casket upon death is a final tribute to the men and women who have secured the blessings of liberty. Though this tribute is not reserved exclusively for veterans (flags also drape the caskets of government officials and others), it is a special tribute the family of every veteran should be aware of and take advantage of. 

The VA issues almost a half-million burial flags to drape the caskets of deceased veterans each year. Any honorable discharged veteran is entitled to a burial flag which, upon internment, is folded and presented to the family as a keepsake. Usually, these details are handled by the funeral director. However, families need to know their options. 

The burial flag is one of the few government actions that can be done with minimum “red tape” and paperwork. A burial flag may be obtained from most post offices after filling out a simple, single-page form, VA Form 2008, and verifying the Veteran’s status with discharge papers such as the DD 214 we discussed earlier in this post. 

If you have any additional questions about veteran funerals and benefits, please don’t hesitate to send us an email! We’d love to help you and your family celebrate yourself or your loved one with the fullest honors.