Honorably Discharged Veterans and their families are entitled to various benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs. In short, a veteran is eligible if they were discharged in any way other than dishonorable. More info on eligibility can be found here. VA Burial Benefits Eligibility.
Military Honors Ceremony
Typically performed at the internment site of the deceased, Military Honors are the last Thank You and Farewell from the United State Military. There are three notable actions performed in this ceremony, a Thank You and Farewell speech, the Folding of an American Flag with Presentation to the family, and the playing of Taps.
Each military branch has a special unit whose sole purpose is to deliver these honors, and requests can be made for any time.
In addition, many local American Legion and Veteran's of Foreign Wars chapters will also have a group of honorably discharged veterans that will perform military honors in lieu of, or in addition to, the official ceremonies detailed above. Some even will go above and beyond, performing a gifting ceremony and a 3 round, 7 gun salute, also known as a 21-gun salute.
Every Veteran is entitled to a special American flag used for the purpose of performing the Military Honors Ceremony. This flag is draped over the casket or placed folded near the urn before military honors take place. Once folded in the honors ceremony, this flag is presented to the family as a token of appreciation from the United States of America, of their loved ones dedication and sacrifice to the nation.
If so wanted, each veteran is entitled to a spot in one of America's National Veteran Cemeteries. The VA supplies a vault and grave marker for the grave at no cost to the family. Generally, you cannot plan ahead with the cemetery, and services cannot be conducted on Weekends or National Holidays. Family members can also be buried in these cemeteries under certain conditions.
Burial in Arlington National Cemetery is included in this, but the approval process is more involved, with funeral homes and families outside of the Washington D.C area having to employ to help of a local funeral home. This usually means additional costs to the family outside of what the VA already offers.
A headstone or bronze plaque can be obtained for free from the VA. Each plaque will have the name, dates, branch, rank, and conflict of the veteran, with a symbol and custom saying placed below the symbol.
There are 4 types of headstones, a marble upright (such as those you imagine when you think military cemetery), a marble flat, a bronze flat marker, and a bronze niche plaque.
Traditionally, bronze flats are chosen for there versatility. They can be mounted to an existing stone, placed on a concrete slab to make it a flat marker, or mounted to any number of materials that you may have.
Medallions can also be obtained relating to the veterans branch or conflict of which they served.
To express the nations appreciation and gratitude to those that served before and during the Vietnam War, President Kennedy started the Presidential Memorial Certificate program in 1962. These are Gold Embossed Paper Certificates presented to the family of a veteran signed by the current president in office. More than one can be obtained.
Some families can be reimbursed for a small portion of funeral expenses by the Department of Veteran Affairs. These are constantly changing, but typically it is only for the burial costs. Please reach out to us for further clarification on this topic.
The family of any veteran is eligible to receive lost or never gotten service medals and decorations earned. Obtaining these is not a typical burial benefit offered by the VA through a funeral organization, but we are more than happy to help you through the process.