Military veterans often have burial benefits.
Members of the armed forces spend part or all of their careers serving the country.
The work requires personal sacrifice as military members often miss holidays and important family milestones.
While many give the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, others eventually enter into civilian life.
As Jose N. Harris put it: “A Veteran is someone, who at one point in their life, wrote a blank check payable to the United States of America for an amount up to, and including, their life.”
According to a recent Military Times article titled “VA officials work to raise awareness of cemetery, burial services,” several military benefits are still available after retirement from the service.
One of these benefits is financial assistance for graveside and burial of veterans.
Unfortunately, many military members and their loved ones are not aware of this benefit despite the National Cemetery Administration overseeing national veteran cemeteries for almost 50 years.
The Veterans Administration now manages 155 national veterans cemeteries.
The department also funds an additional 121 cemeteries.
Although veterans are eligible to be buried free of charge in state run or department run veteran cemeteries, only about 20 percent who died in the last year did so.
Why so few?
One factor could be the desire from family for family members to be buried in the same plot.
The military cemetery only allows for spouses and certain other dependents to be buried with the veterans at the national cemetery.
If people choose not to be buried in one of these cemeteries, they can still take advantage of burial benefits from the Veterans Administration.
What are these?
Veterans can receive a free headstone for their plot in a private cemetery.
A free medallion indicating veteran status can be provided for existing headstones.
These burial benefits are often overlooked because many funeral homes and family members are unfamiliar with the program.
Last year, the Veterans Administration provided 12,000 medallions and 350,000 headstones for graves of veterans.
Although veterans may not choose to use the services, it can be wise to apply for the benefits in advance to ensure loved ones have the option when the veteran dies.
When loved ones are left to apply after the death of the loved one, they often have the stress of looking for military discharge papers while mourning the loss of their loved one.
Veterans, make sure your family knows where to find your DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.
I recorded mine with my local county register of deeds in case the original were ever lost or destroyed.
I would recommend doing the same, just in case.
Reference: Military Times (Jan. 24, 2023) “VA officials work to raise awareness of cemetery, burial services”