Funerals for Veterans

Providing military funeral honors for our veterans

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For love of country they accepted death.

President James A. Garfield

In Deep Gratitude

Military funeral honors are a way to show the nation’s deep gratitude to those who, in times of war and peace, have faithfully defended the country. This ceremonial paying of respect is the final demonstration a grateful nation can provide to its veterans’ families.

Providing military funeral honors, in some form, began in ancient Greece and Rome. This tradition has continued on and has been adopted as part of the American funeral experience.

U.S. law now mandates the rendering of military funeral honors for an eligible veteran if requested by the family, provided at no cost by the Department of Defense.

As provided by law, an honor guard detail for the burial of an eligible veteran shall consist of not less than two members of the Armed Forces. One member of the detail shall be a representative of the parent branch of service of the deceased veteran. The honor detail will, at a minimum, perform a ceremony that includes the folding and presentation of the American flag to the next of kin and the playing of taps. Taps will be played by a bugler, if available, or by electronic recording.

Who is eligible for Military Funeral Honors?

  • Military members on active duty or in the Selected Reserve.
  • Former military members who served on active duty and departed under conditions other than dishonorable.
  • Former military members who completed at least one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service in the Selected Reserve and departed under conditions other than dishonorable.
  • Former military members discharged from the Selected Reserve due to a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.

How do I establish veteran eligibility?

The preferred method is the DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. If the DD Form 214 is not available, any discharge document showing other than dishonorable service can be used. The DD Form 214 may be obtained by filling out a Standard Form 180 and sending it to:

National Personnel Records Center(NPRC)
9700 Page Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63132

The Standard Form 180 may be obtained from the National Records Center or you can download it from the link below.

DOWNLOAD STANDARD FORM 180

Veterans Headstones

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a Government headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world, regardless of their date of death.   For eligible veterans that died on or after Nov. 1, 1990, VA may also provide a headstone or marker for graves that are already marked with a private headstone or marker. When the grave is already marked, applicants will have the option to apply for either a traditional headstone or marker

Flat markers in granite, marble, and bronze and upright headstones in granite and marble are available, however, the style chosen must be consistent with existing monuments at the place of burial. Niche markers are also available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains.

When burial or memorialization is in a national cemetery, state veterans’ cemetery, or military post/base cemetery, a headstone or marker will be ordered by the cemetery officials based on inscription information provided by the next of kin or authorized representative.

Spouses and dependents are not eligible for a Government-furnished headstone or marker unless they are buried in a national cemetery, state veteran’s cemetery, or military post/base cemetery.

Note: There is no charge for the headstone or marker itself, however arrangements for placing it in a private cemetery are the applicant’s responsibility and all setting fees are at private expense.

VETERAN MILITARY MARKER APPLICATION

Burial Flags for Veterans

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 U. S. Armed Forces.  It is furnished to honor the memory of a veteran’s military service to his or her country. VA will furnish a burial flag for memorialization for:

  • A veteran who served during wartime
  • A veteran who died on active duty after May 27, 1941
  • A veteran who served after January 31, 1955
  • A peacetime veteran who was discharged or released before June 27, 1950
  • Certain persons who served in the organized military forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines while in service of the U.S. Armed Forces and who died on or after April 25, 1951
  • Certain former members of the Selected Reserves
VETERAN FLAG APPLICATION

Obtaining a Burial Flag

  • Military members on active duty
  • Military retirees
  • Members and former members of the Selected Reserve
  • Eligible U.S. veterans of any war
  • Other U.S. veterans who served at least one term of enlistment and separated under conditions other than dishonorable

Generally, the flag is given to the next-of-kin, as a keepsake, after its use during the funeral service. When there is no next-of-kin, VA will furnish the flag to a friend making request for it. For those VA national cemeteries with an Avenue of Flags, families of veterans buried in these national cemeteries may donate the burial flags of their loved ones to be flown on patriotic holidays.

Generally, the funeral director will help you obtain the flag or, you may apply for the flag by completing VA Form 27-2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes. You may get a flag at any VA regional office or U.S. Post Office.

The law allows us to issue one flag for a veteran’s funeral. We cannot replace it if it is lost, destroyed, or stolen. However, some veterans’ organizations or other community groups may be able to help you get another flag.

The proper way to display the flag depends upon whether the casket is open or closed. VA Form 27-2008 provides the correct method for displaying and folding the flag. The burial flag is not suitable for outside display because of its size and fabric. It is made of cotton and can easily be damaged by weather.

Burial Benefits

What are VA burial allowances?

VA burial allowances are partial reimbursements of an eligible Veteran’s burial and funeral costs. When the cause of death is not service related, the reimbursements are generally described as two payments: (1) a burial and funeral expense allowance, and (2) a plot or interment allowance.

You may be eligible for a VA burial allowance if:

  • you paid for a Veteran’s burial or funeral, AND
  • you have not been reimbursed by another government agency or some other source, such as the deceased Veteran’s employer, AND
  • the Veteran was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.

In addition, at least one of the following conditions must be met:

  • the Veteran died because of a service-related disability, OR
  • the Veteran was receiving VA pension or compensation at the time of death, OR
  • the Veteran was entitled to receive VA pension or compensation, but decided not to reduce his/her military retirement or disability pay, OR
  • the Veteran died while hospitalized by VA, or while receiving care under VA contract at a non-VA facility, OR
  • or the Veteran died while traveling under proper authorization and at VA expense to or from a specified place for the purpose of examination, treatment, or care, OR
  • the Veteran had an original or reopened claim pending at the time of death and has been found entitled to compensation or pension from a date prior to the date of death, OR
  • the Veteran died on or after October 9, 1996, while a patient at a VA–approved state nursing home.

Service-Related Death

VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for deaths on or after September 11, 2001. VA will pay up to $1,500 for deaths prior to September 10, 2001. If the Veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, some of the cost of transporting the deceased may be reimbursed.

Non-service-Related Death

For deaths on or after October 1, 2011, VA will pay up to $700.00 toward burial and funeral expenses (if hospitalized by VA at time of death), or $300 toward burial and funeral expenses (if not hospitalized by VA at time of death), and a $700.00 plot-interment allowance (if not buried in a national cemetery). For deaths on or after December 1, 2001, but before October 1, 2011, VA will pay up to $300.00 toward burial and funeral expenses and a $300.00 plot-interment allowance. The plot-interment allowance is $150.00 for deaths prior to December 1, 2001. If the death happened while the Veteran was in a VA hospital or under VA contracted nursing home care, some of all of the costs for transporting the Veteran’s remains may be reimbursed. An annual increase in burial and plot allowances, for deaths occurring after October 1, 2011, begins in fiscal year 2013 based on the Consumer Price Index for the preceding 12-month period.

You can apply by filling out VA Form 21-530, Application for Burial Benefits. You should attach a copy of the Veteran’s military discharge document (DD 214 or equivalent), death certificate, funeral and burial bills. They should show that you have paid them in full.

Note: All reimbursement amounts are not guaranteed.

Local and National Organizations

Chicago Regional Benefit Office
2122 West Taylor St
Chicago, IL 60612
http://www.benefits.va.gov/chicago/

McHenry VFW
3002 W. Route 120
McHenry, IL 60050
815-385-4553

Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery
27034 S. Diagonal Rd.
Elwood, IL 60421
708-202-8236 or 815-423-9958

DOWNLOAD APPLICATION FOR BURIAL BENEFIT
DOWNLOAD BURIAL BENEFIT DETAILS

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