In an effort to pay tribute to veterans who served their countries by performing military service, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides deceased veterans with a wide range of memorial and burial benefits. For help ensuring that your own loved one is properly honored for his or her sacrifices, please contact a dedicated VA benefits attorneys who can walk you through the application process.
What Memorial Benefits Does the VA Offer?
After a veteran passes away, his or her family can apply to the VA to have that individual interred in one of 135 national cemeteries. Those who qualify for burial in a VA national cemetery are also eligible to receive the following burial benefits:
- Perpetual care of the gravesite;
- A headstone or marker with an inscription;
- A burial flag;
- A Presidential Memorial Certificate;
- Transportation of flower arrangements to the gravesite; and
- The opening and closing of the grave, placement in an above-ground vault, or burial of cremated remains.
For the loved ones of deceased veterans who do not opt for burial in a national cemetery, but instead choose burial in a private cemetery closer to home, the VA also provides benefits, including a burial flag, Presidential Memorial Certificate, and a government headstone, medallion, or marker. Many surviving family members are also entitled to a VA burial allowance, which partially reimburses them for the cost of the veteran’s burial and funeral.
VA Eligibility Requirements
To qualify for VA memorial benefits, a person must have been:
- A member of the U.S. Armed Forces, which includes the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard who died while on active duty; or
- Was not dishonorably discharged and who, if he or she enlisted after 1980 served for at least two consecutive years or for the full period for which he or she was called to active duty; or
- A U.S. citizen who served for any allied nation and whose last active service was terminated honorably by death or otherwise.
Most service members fall under the second category and so must only demonstrate that they did not receive an undesirable or bad conduct discharge. In the event that a person received multiple discharges of varying character, the VA Regional Office will be tasked with determining whether a veteran qualifies for memorial benefits.
Surviving spouses and dependents of eligible veterans could also qualify for interment in a national cemetery. This is true even if the spouse or dependent predeceases the veteran or if the veteran was not buried in a national cemetery. Former spouses whose marriage to a veteran was terminated by annulment or divorce are not eligible for VA memorial benefits, nor are veterans whose character of service resulted in a bar to veterans benefits, or whose only service was active duty for training or inactive duty training in the National Guard or Reserve Component.
Contact an Experienced VA Benefits Attorney Today
Burial sites in national cemeteries cannot be reserved in advance, which means that the surviving family members of deceased veterans are usually required to grapple with the memorial benefits application process while also grieving, juggling household expenses, and paying for a memorial service. For help with this process, please call The Comerford Law Office, LLC at 312-863-8572.