Preservation of Cemeteries
Home Owners Insurance and Grave Markers
Burial Benefits for Veterans
Shopping Tips for Memorials
Funeral Home History
Burial Benefits for Veterans
All U.S. Soldiers Qualify
The United States Military has a long and proud tradition of providing funeral and burial services for all of its honorably discharged veterans. The famous Public Law 106-65 requires that, upon request by the family, each veteran will be paid a formal final tribute to include a presentation of an American flag by uniformed military personnel and the playing of Taps. This service is administered by the Department of Defense, and families can request the service, free of charge, through any funeral director. Aside from this ceremonial service, the United States Veterans Administration also offers free grave markers for all honorably discharged veterans. These markers are available upon request from anyone (not necessarily just family members) who has knowledge of a veteran’s death. They are even available for the unmarked graves of veterans who died decades (or even centuries) ago. These grave markers may be ordered through the Veteran’s Administration, and more information is available on the agency’s website and at any VA office.
A sometimes-overlooked part of the VA’s free grave marker service is the agency’s re-imbursement program. On occasion, the selection of grave marker styles offered by the VA is not suitable for family’s needs. This can particularly happen in cases in which a family desires a “companion” headstone to memorialize a veteran along with a spouse who was not a veteran. The VA typically does not provide such markers, but family members, of course, have the option of purchasing one from a private supplier and being reimbursed for at least some of the price. For non-service related deaths, the VA’s reimbursement program will pay up to $600 for a veteran cemetery gravestone or any other burial related expenses paid to a private company. For service-related deaths, the VA will pay up to $2,000.
For more information on any of the benefits mentioned in this article, families should contact the Veterans Administration and/or a funeral director. It’s important to note that the grave markers and re-imbursement programs are administered by the VA while the funeral ceremony program (known as “Honoring Those Who Served”) is run by the Department of Defense, a related – but separate -- agency from the Veterans Administration. For those who encounter difficulty navigating the system to obtain their benefits, most licensed funeral directors are qualified and experienced to help for free, and the VA can be reached at 1-800-827-1000.
In general, the benefits are available for all honorably discharged veterans who served at least one full term in the military. They are also available, of course, for members of the United States Reserved Armed Forces.
A wide variety of gravestones are available through the VA’s program, and they be installed in official government cemeteries or in private memorial parks. In both cases, the markers must match the requirements of the cemetery, and, in private cemeteries, installation charges will likely apply for the family. The program is not limited to headstones: niche markers, for veterans who have been cremated, are also available through the VA.