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Ten Important Facts About Your VA Burial Benefits

Many veterans may not fully understand the benefits to which they're entitled.  Participating Providers take the responsibility of helping veterans receive the benefits they deserve very seriously.  For that reason, we've compiled this list of 10 Important Facts About Your VA Burial Benefits.


FACT 1. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Benefits Do Not Cover All The Funeral Or Cremation Arrangements Of Honorably Discharged Veterans.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits do not cover all the funeral or cremation arrangements of honorably discharged veterans.

There are certain monetary, recognition and service benefits that may be available. However, reimbursement for funeral or cremation service expenses is limited, and usually only applies to veterans who:

  • Retire from the Armed Services, or
  • Were disabled due to a service-related injury, or
  • Died in a VA hospital or while in a nursing home under VA contract

Standard guidelines are provided as an overview, but only the VA can rule on your exact benefits.

FACT 2. You Will Need Documentation To Verify 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 Participating Provider will be glad to help secure one.

FACT 3. Veteran's Family Must Request A United States Flag.

A flag is provided at no cost to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran. Generally, the flag is given to the next of kin. Only one flag may be provided per veteran. Upon the request of the family, an “Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes” (VA Form 21-2008) must be submitted along with a copy of the veteran’s discharge papers. 

Flags may be obtained from VA regional offices and most U.S. Post Offices. For your family’s convenience, your Participating Provider provider will be glad to help them request your flag.

FACT 4. Military Funeral Honors Ceremonies Must Be Scheduled In Advance.

The law requires that every eligible veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, which includes the folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of “taps,” upon the family’s request.

This Department of Defense program calls for the funeral director to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veteran’s family. Your Participating Provider works with various veterans organizations to assist in the provision of military funeral honors.

FACT 5. Veterans' Caskets Are Not Free.

As a standard policy, neither the VA nor the various branches of service provide a free casket for a deceased veteran, unless death occurs while on active duty. 

Caskets and other merchandise are offered at discount prices as part of your Pre-Need Funeral Arrangement package.

FACT 6. A "Presidential Memorial Certificate" Must Be Requested.

Initiated in March 1962 by President John F. Kennedy, a “Presidential Memorial Certificate” is an engraved paper certificate, signed by the current President, to honor the memory of honorably discharged, deceased veterans.

Eligible recipients, or someone acting on their behalf, may apply in person at any VA regional office or by U.S. mail.

Your Participating Provider can assist your family in obtaining this certificate.

FACT 7. If You Choose Not To Be Buried In A VA National Cemetery, Monetary Burial Benefits Are Limited.

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. In order to receive a VA burial allowance you must meet the following conditions:

  • Payment for the veteran’s burial must have been made without any reimbursement from a government agency or other source and the veteran must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
  • In addition, at least one of the following conditions must be met:
    • The veteran  must have died because of service-related disability, or
    • The veteran must have been receiving VA pension or compensation, or
    • The veteran must have died in a VA hospital or nursing home under VA contract.

In order to determine the final reimbursement amount, an “Application for Burial Benefits” (VA Form 21-530) must be submitted within two years from the date of the veteran’s permanent burial. If your family does not have the form 21-530 at the time of death, your Participating Provider will be glad to help secure one.

FACT 8. There Are Eligibility Requirements For Burial In A VA National Cemetery.

Any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who dies while on active duty or any veteran who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable is entitled to burial in a VA national cemetery. Under certain conditions, the unremarried surviving spouse and minor children of an eligible person are also entitled to this benefit.

Burial in a VA national cemetery includes:
  • An assigned gravesite (if space is available) 
  • Opening and closing of the grave
  • A grave liner for casketed remains
  • A government headstone or marker
  • Perpetual care at no cost to the family
Cremated remains are buried or inurned in VA national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains.

    It's important to note that you may not reserve space in a VA national cemetery ahead of time, since VA national cemeteries only allow arrangements to be made at the time of a death. Therefore, if you do not choose burial in a private cemetery, there is no guarantee that spouses or other family members will be buried side by side, or even nearby.

    Additionally, you should note that burials in VA national cemeteries usually are not conducted on weekends and, depending on the VA cemetery, there may be a waiting period before burial can occur.

    In addition, non-veteran parents may be interred in a national cemetery with their child if that child was killed in combat and has no other eligible survivors. In order for such burial to occur, an official must determine that there is available space.


    FACT 9. Headstones Or Markers For A Burial Service In A Private Cemetery Must Be Requested.

    The VA, upon request and at no charge to the applicant, will furnish a government headstone or marker for the grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world. Upright headstones are available in granite and marble, and flat markers are available in granite, marble and bronze. The style must be consistent with existing monuments or markers at the place of burial. Niche markers for cremated remains are also available.

    An “Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker for Installation in a Private or State Veteran’s Cemetery” (VA Form 40-1330) must be submitted. If your family does not have form 40-1330 at the time of death, your Participating Provider will help secure one.

    FACT10.The Issuance Or Replacement Of Military Service Medals, Awards And Decorations Must Be Requested In Writing.

    Military service medals, awards and decorations are available from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). Family members may request medals and awards for living veterans only if they have obtained their signed authorization. For deceased veterans, requests will be accepted from the next-of-kin.

    Requests should be submitted in writing to the appropriate military service branch division of the NPRC. Standard form (SF 180), available through the VA, is recommended to submit your request. Generally, there is no charge for medal or award replacements. For more information, or for the mailing address of the military branch office to submit your request to, call 1-86-NARA-NARA (1-866-272-6272) or visit the NPRC website at

    If your family does not have form SF 180 at the time of death, any Participating Provider will help secure one.

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    VeteranCare is dedicated to helping U.S. veterans and their spouses with their healthcare needs.  VeteranCare is a veteran care coordination company, assisting veterans and their spouses in receivng the care they need and deserve through a Veterans Administration program.   

    As part of the services we offer, we've established a network of estate planning and eldercare attorneys to help veterans receive the healthcare they need and can not afford. The program and services of the estate planning and eldercare attorneys are at NO OUT OF POCKET COST to the veteran and/or spouse.  The program is funded 100% by the U.S. Government. Call us at 561-922-9316 so we can refer you to a member of our network who is in the VeteranCare network and who can have a phone conversation with you to see if you qualify. 

    Veterans services coordinated by VeteranCare include home care, assisted living and care management.  All applications are provided under the supervison of a Department of Veteran Affairs accredited attorney.  VeteranCare's streamlined process can cut your approval and care waiting time for these programs from as much as one year, down to one month in most cases!  Typically, you and/or your spouse can actually start receiving care within 30 days.  Once approved, if you stay in compliance with VA laws you are enrolled for life!

    Homeless Veterans Burial Program

    The Dignity Memorial® Homeless Veterans Burial Program provides dignified burial services for eligible homeless and indigent veterans to ensure they receive the honors in death that their service in life merited.

    Founded upon the belief that every veteran deserves a dignified and honorable burial, the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program is a cooperative effort among Dignity Memorial funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, local medical examiners, coroners, veterans advocates and veterans organizations. 

    Through the program, homeless and indigent veterans who have no family to claim them are identified and provided with a proper military burial. Dignity Memorial providers supply preparation of the body, transportation, clothing, casket and coordination of the funeral service. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides eligible veterans with the opening and closing of the gravesite, a grave liner, a headstone or marker, a graveside ceremony and burial in a National Cemetery. 

    Currently available in 30 metropolitan across the country, the Dignity Memorial Homeless Veterans Burial Program has provided burial services for more than 1,600 homeless veterans since the program’s inception in 2000.

    We Honor Veterans Program

    The Dignity Memorial Network is proud to be the Founding Community Partner of the We Honor Veterans Program. 

    Dignity Memorial partners with the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) on their program with the Department of Veterans Affairs titled We Honor Veterans. Dignity Memorial Funeral Homes and Cemeteries are the first non-hospice partners on the program and are focused on providing Veteran Education and continuing to offer the most personalized care to veterans and their families. 

    For more information about the program, please visit