Veterans Serving Veterans

Veteran Burial Benefits- 10 Important Facts

By serving so many veterans for so many years, American Veterans® understand the needs of American veterans, specifically in regards to their VA burial benefits.

We’ve also come to understand that navigating the red tape associated with obtaining the VA burial benefits can be daunting to say the least. Because of this fact, we’ve put together this list of ten important facts regarding veteran burial benefits. For additional assistance or to get hold of pertinent forms visit us on the web at

1.     Veteran Affairs benefits do not cover all the funeral costs

The United States department of Veteran Affairs provides a $300 allowance for burial and funeral costs for Veterans who are eligible to receive pension or would be eligible to receive pension if not receiving military retirement compensation. Additionally, veterans are eligible for this allowance if their final days are spent in a VA facility or VA/State Veteran contracted nursing home. When the Veteran’s passing is not service-related, there is a 2 year window to file a claim.

Compensation for funeral services generally applies only to veterans who:

Have retired from the military

Became disabled as a result of a service-oriented injury

Passed away in a Veterans Affair hospital or a VA-contracted nursing home

Our guidelines provide a snapshot of available burial benefits, however only the department of Veteran Affairs can determine your specific burial benefits.

2.     Documentation is required to verify the Veteran’s military service.

Form DD214, report of separation from the military are required to verify armed forces enlistment & obtain the Veteran burial benefits.. Generally, discharge papers can be obtained if not in possession at time of the Veteran’s passing. American Veterans® will gladly assist in your obtaining of your proof of military service.

A “Report of Separation from the Armed Forces of the United States,” also known as “discharge papers,” is normally required to verify military service. In most cases, this report is the DD 214. If your family does not have form DD 214 at the time of death, any Dignity Memorial provider will be glad to help secure one.

3.     A flag is provided at Veterans are entitled to an American burial flag

A burial flag is provided for free to drape the casket of the veteran. Normally, the burial flag is bestowed upon the next of kin. To request the Veteran burial flag, VA form 21-2008 must be filled out and submitted with a copy of the veteran’s discharge papers. Burial flags may be picked up from Veteran Affairs regional offices and United States postal offices. Our team at American Veterans® will gladly assist in obtaining your burial flag.

4.     Military Funeral Honors must be taken care of in advance

If requested, the department of defense offers Veterans military memorial honors that entail burial flag folding and the playing of the taps. The ceremony consists of 2 or more members of the armed forces in full uniform along with at least 1 from the veteran’s service branch.

The law requires that all eligible veterans receive the honors ceremony, which the funeral director will request. Families must inform their funeral director if they wish for the military funeral honors to be performed.  At American Veterans®, we work with several different veteran organizations to ensure that veterans receive their appropriate military funeral honors.

5.     Veteran caskets are not cost-free.

Unfortunately due to policy, neither the department of Veteran Affairs nor military branches provide a free-of-cost casket for veterans unless the veteran dies in active service. As a central part of our Veteran Services, American Veterans® assists military families by providing veteran caskets at a very low price.

6.     Presidential Memorial Certificates must be requested

These memorial certificates, which are signed by the president, are issued to the next of kin or other loved ones. To apply for the memorial certificate, the Veteran’s family must complete and submit Veteran Affairs form 40-0247 with a copy of relevant military discharge papers. At American Veterans® we are more than happy to help you with obtaining the presidential memorial certificate.

7.     If not buried in a VA national cemetery, burial benefits may be limited

The department of Veteran Affairs has over 130 cemeteries and 72 of those cemeteries are open for new casket burials.Veterans that are buried in a private cemetery might be entitled to a reimbursement for part of their burial costs. Up to $700 may be obtained for deaths that are not service related for veteran burial benefits, and an additional $700 may be obtained for plot allowances.

Veterans buried in a private cemetery may be eligible to receive a partial reimbursement for their burial costs. For non-service related deaths, a burial expense allowance (up to $700) and a plot allowance (up to $700) may be given. Eligibility for  Veteran Affairs burial benefits include:

No other government agency bestowed compensation or assistance
The veteran was not discharged under dishonorable conditions

Also, the Veteran must be in accordance with one of the following:

  • The veteran passed away as a result of a service disability
  • The veteran was obtaining Veteran Affairs compensation/pension
  • The veteran passed away at a VA hospital or nursing home

To discover the exact reimbursement amount form 21-530, ‘Application for Burial Benefits’ must be competed & submitted within a two year window of the veteran’s burial.

8.     Veteran Affairs national cemetery requirements

Any veteran of the armed forces who is killed on active duty or any veteran that is not dishonorably discharged is entitled to burial at a Veteran Affairs national cemetery. Also, a veteran’s spouse and or children under the age of 18 may also be entitled to the veteran benefits. VA benefits in a national cemetery include:

  • If space permits: an assigned gravesite
  • Opening and closing
  • Grave liner for casket remains
  • Headstone or marker
  • Complementary ongoing care

It is imperative to take care of your benefits regarding national cemetery burial ahead of time. There very well may be a waiting list so it is of the utmost importance to plan in advance. If the veteran’s parents wish to be buried in a national cemetery with their child, they may do so pending available space.

9.     Headstones for a burial space must be requested

Included with the Veteran’s burial benefits is a government furnished headstone/marker. Headstones or markers may be available in marble or granite. Also flat markers may be requested as long as the style is in accordance with monuments already present at the burial place.

To apply for this benefit, form 40-1330 must be completed at time of the Veteran passing.

10.  Veteran’s military service medals must be requested

Service medals, decorations and various awards are able to be obtained from the national personnel records center or NPRC. Family members or next-of-kin are able to request awards and medals for living veterans providing they have signed consent. For Veterans that have passed, the next-of-kin may make such a request. To make the request, standard form SF 180 through the department of Veteran Affairs should be submitted. There is no cost associated with replacements. If the veteran’s family does not have form SF 180 at the time of the veteran passing, American Veterans® will gladly assist in obtaining said form.

If you have any questions whatsoever or need further assistance in navigating your  veteran burial benefits please, don’t hesitate to contact us.


Veteran Burial Benefits For Spouses

Benefits For Spouses and Dependents

The spouse or surviving spouse of an eligible Veteran is eligible for interment in a national cemetery even if that Veteran is notburied or memorialized in a national cemetery.  In addition, the spouse or survivingspouse of a member of the Armed Forces of the United States whose remains are unavailable for burial is also eligible for burial.

(1)  The spouse or surviving spouse of an eligible Veteran is eligible for interment in a national cemetery even if that Veteran is notburied or memorialized in a national cemetery.  In addition, the spouse or survivingspouse of a member of the Armed Forces of the United States whose remains are unavailable for burial is also eligible for burial.

(2)  The surviving spouse of an eligible Veteran who had a subsequent remarriage to a non-Veteran and whose death occurred on or after January 1, 2000, is eligible for burial in a national cemetery, based on his or her marriage to the eligible Veteran.

(3)  The minor children of an eligible Veteran.  For purpose of burial in a national cemetery, a minor child is a child who is unmarried and:

  • Who is under 21 years of age; or,
  • Who is under 23 years of age and pursuing a full-time course of instruction at an approved educational institution.

(4)  The unmarried adult child of an eligible Veteran.  For purpose of burial in a national cemetery, an unmarried adult child is:

  Of any age but became permanently physically or mentally disabled and incapable of self-support before reaching 21 years of age, or before reaching 23 years of age if pursuing a full-time course of instruction at an approved educational institution.  Proper supporting documentation must be provided.

Veteran Burial Benefits

Veteran Burial Benefits

Burial benefits include a gravesite in any national cemetary with available space, the opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a headstone or marker, a burial flag, a grave liner and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. If you prefer to have the veteran burial in a private cemetery they may still be entitled to a headstone or marker, a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate and burial allowances.

Military Funeral Honors – Who Is Eligible?

- 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 Much Does VA Pay?

Service-Related Death.  VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expensesfor deaths on or after September 11, 2001.  VA will pay up to $1,500 for deaths prior toSeptember 10, 2001.  If the veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery,some or all of the cost of transporting the deceased may be reimbursed.
Nonservice-Related Death.
  VA will pay up to $300 toward burial and funeral expenses and a $300 plot-interment allowance for deaths on or after December 1, 2001.  The plot-interment allowance is $150 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 or all of the costs for transporting the veteran’s remains may be reimbursed.

Veteran Burial Flag

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.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 each other than dishonorable discharged

Presidential Memorial Certificate

A Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC) is an engraved paper certificate, signed by the current President, to honor the memory of  honorably discharged deceased Veterans. This program was initiated in March 1962 by President John F. Kennedy and has been continued by all subsequent Presidents. Statutory authority for the program is Section 112, Title38, of the United States Code.Eligible recipients include the next of kin and loved ones of honorably discharged deceased Veterans. More than one certificate may be provided.


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