What kind of funeral related benefits are available to Veterans?

When my Father passed some years ago the flag ceremony performed by two active duty sailors at his grave side was part of the memorial to our loved one who gave four years of service. That flag hangs above my desk and is a daily reminder of my Father’s life and love for his country, a family treasure that often causes me to stop with gratitude and remember that I live in a land of freedom. Yet I know that many brave men and women paid the ultimate price for my freedom.

A burial flag is provided at no cost to drape the casket or accompany an urn of any Veteran with an honorable discharge. Apply on VA form 21-2008 at any VA regional office or US Post Office. Generally a funeral director can assist with this matter.

In addition to burial flags, Presidential Memorial Certificates signed by the current president are available to next of kin and more than one certificate can be issued. Make application on VA form 40-0247 at any VA regional office. You will need to enclose a copy of the death certificate and the Veteran’s discharge papers or DD214.

Headstones are furnished upon request or a marker for an unmarked grave at no charge for any deceased Veteran around the world, regardless of their date of death. Flat makers are in granite, marble or bronze and upright headstones where allowed are in granite and marble. Bronze markers are also available for inurnment of cremated remains. There may be a fee for placing the same in a private cemetery.

Burial allotments for non-service connected deaths after December 1, 2001 are available for up to $300 for burial and funeral arrangements and $300 for plot-internment. Significantly more funds are available for service related deaths. If death happens while in a VA hospital or nursing home, some transportation expenses for the Veteran’s remains are possible. Apply on VA-form 21-530. This form is available at www.va.gov/vaforms. You will need death certificate, DD214 and paid in full funeral/burial bills.

Veterans can be buried in 131 national cemeteries but arrangements cannot be made over the internet and do not include cremation or local funeral arrangements. Opening and closing of the grave is covered along with perpetual care of the grave site. Spouses can be buried with the Veteran whose name, date of birth and death can be placed on the Veteran’s headstone at no cost. Many states including SC have state veterans cemeteries, but may have residency requirements. Burial at sea is possible with certain restrictions by calling the US Navy Mortuary Affairs at 866-787-0081.

For more information write, call or visit the following web site:

US Department of Veteran Affairs
810 Vermont Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20420
1-800-827-1000
www.cem.va.gov

Disclaimer:  Information contained in this column is meant to be of general information on frequently asked questions concerning disability, elder law, estate planning and probate law, and does not contain specific legal advice to a client.  No attorney-client relationship is created by reading this column.

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