When a loved one passes away, we want to honor their life and what they stood for. When a Veteran dies, we honor their commitment to offering up their own life to protect and serve others. With a commitment this all-encompassing, we want to fully recognize their service to our country and to those who cannot protect themselves.
One way that you can honor your veteran is by making sure that they receive the honors of the military at their funeral. A trumpeter playing Taps, a folded flag, and a gun salute may come to mind. Your funeral director can help with these types of arrangements.
Request a “Military Funeral and Honor Guard”
Your funeral home director will request military funeral honors on behalf of a Veterans’ family from the National Cemetery or local VFW, DAV, VVA or American Legion group. If you are already involved in talking with other Veterans about this, let your funeral director know.
Military honors include an honor guard detail of at least two members of the U.S. armed forces. At least one member of the detail must be a representative from the deceased veteran’s service branch. The honor detail performs a ceremony that includes the playing of taps and the folding and presentation of the American flag to the next of kin.
Veteran’s Burial Allowance
If you are paying for the burial and funeral costs, you may be eligible for a Veteran’s burial allowance which covers burial and funeral costs, the plot (gravesite) or interment. It also includes transporting the Veteran’s remains if there is a burial in a national cemetery.
If you are the Veteran’s surviving spouse, you don’t even have to file a claim as long as you’re listed as the Veteran’s spouse on the Veteran’s profile. When the Department of Veteran’s Affairs receives notice of the Veteran’s death, you automatically receive a set amount for help to pay for the plot, the cost of internment, or transportation of the remains to the cemetery.
You can apply for a Veteran’s Burial Allowance online if you are:
- The Veteran’s surviving spouse
- The surviving partner from a legal union
- A surviving parent or child of the Veteran
- The executor or administrator of the Veteran’s estate
The Veteran must not have received a dishonorable discharge, and one of these circumstances must be true. The Veteran died:
- As a result of a disability-related to service
- While getting VA care, either at a VA facility or at a facility contracted by VA
- While traveling with proper authorization, and at VA expense, either to or from a facility for an examination, or to receive treatment or care
- With an original or reopened claim for VA compensation or pension pending at the time of death, if they would’ve been entitled to benefits before the time of death
- While receiving VA pension or compensation
- While eligible for VA pension or compensation at the time of death, but instead received full military retirement or disability pay
- While receiving a VA pension or compensation
- While receiving military retired pay instead of compensation
There are several documents you will need to apply for this benefit. You may work with your funeral director to begin the process of claiming benefits to help pay for any burial entitlements from the Department of Veterans Affairs. If you apply on your own, the list of needed documents can be found at Veteran’s Burial Allowance.
National Cemetery Burial
Any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who dies while on active duty or any Veteran who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable may be eligible for burial in a National Cemetery. You can work with your funeral director to plan the viewing and funeral elsewhere and plan for the burial at the national cemetery. The burial at a National Cemetery is called a “Committal Ceremony”. This type of honor for your loved one can be important for a family who is grieving.
With this type of burial service, you may bring flowers to place on the casket or urn when it’s carried from the committal shelter to the gravesite, and you can visit the gravesite at the end of the workday, but not immediately following the ceremony. You can also request a headstone, marker, or medallion.
Military funeral honors at a national cemetery include:
- The playing of “Taps”
- A rifle detail
- A color guard
- Uniformed service members who present the burial flag
VA Survivor’s Pension
Beyond the service and burial itself, there are many agencies that you will need to notify about the death. Some of these are important because you or others may receive benefits based on the service of the decedent. A Veteran’s Affairs Survivors Pension offers monthly payments to qualified surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children of wartime Veterans who meet certain income and net worth limits set by Congress. Find out if you qualify and how to apply at US Department of Veteran’s Affairs
Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System
The Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) can be notified by
- Visit your nearest Personnel Office
- Visit the DEERS website
- Go online to TRICARE
VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC)
If you are the surviving spouse, child, or parent of a service member who died in the line of duty, or the survivor of a Veteran who died from a service-related injury or illness, you may be able to get a tax-free monetary benefit called VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC) , you can apply for benefits at the Veterans Benefits Administration.
Some veterans are enrolled in life insurance policies. You can contact the Veteran’s Benefits Administration if your veteran owned a policy with them. This includes Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) claims.
If there are any other policies related to your home mortgage or other life insurance companies, be sure to contact them for their policies for filing a claim.
You can report the death of a Veteran retiree at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service
If the veteran was also a current or retired federal civilian employee, you will also notify the Office of Personnel Management
In most cases, the funeral home will report the Veteran’s death to Social Security. You should give the funeral home the deceased person’s Social Security number if you want them to make the report.
Honor Their Life
While saying goodbye to a loved one can be a difficult and emotional experience, it helps to honor their life and remember how they impacted their family, friends, and country. When a Veteran passes on, we know that their legacy lives on in the lives of those who saw their selfless acts and learned that there are some things that are more important than your own life.
At Renaissance, we want to walk with you through the process of planning for death. If you are a Veteran, we can help you put a plan into place for your funeral and your family’s future. If you are a survivor and need help planning for a Veteran’s arrangements, our professionals on staff would appreciate the chance to serve you as you walk this grief journey.