Each and every veteran is entitled to a burial in a national cemetery, a grave marker and a flag. Normally, the family is responsible for all other funeral charges, depending on when the death occurred.
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Funerals For Veterans - What Are They Entitled To?

Veterans are a part of our lives. Because of this, I took the time to dig up information regarding a proper veteran funeral. There are details below about what the veteran is entitled to and what the family is entitled to.

Each and every veteran is entitled to a burial in a national cemetery, a grave marker and a flag. There is no charge for opening or closing the grave, a vault or liner, or setting the marker in a national cemetery. Normally, the family is responsible for all other funeral charges. There are varying degrees of the costs associated with a veteran's funeral depending on when the death occurred.

If the death occurred during active duty, all funeral expenses will be paid by the military. In addition, the next of kin is entitled to a death gratuity of $12,000.

If the death occurred during a service related injury, the family is given a $2,000 burial allowance. If the veteran was in a VA facility, the military will pay for the body transport.

If the death occurred in a non-service related capacity in a VA facility or while collecting VA pension or disability compensation, the military will pay $300 for burial allowances.

If the death occurs outside a VA facility or while not receiving military pension or compensation, then the veteran only gets the lot in the national cemetery, the vault, interment, a marker and a flag. The family bears all other funeral costs.

For a spouse and dependents of an eligible veteran, they are entitled to burial in a national cemetery. This applies even if the veteran is not buried there. Adult children of veterans are entitled to burial benefits only if they are disabled and dependent.

Other people may be eligible for the veterans' burial benefits if the person has provided military-related service. Members of the Reserves and National Guard with 20+ years of service are eligible. Some Public Health Service personnel are also eligible. Make sure to inquire if you think you are entitled to these benefits.

Markers are available to all veterans, spouses and dependent children buried in a national cemetery. The markers will be set without charge to the family. The family must pay for the installation cost if buried in a non-government cemetery. Niche markers for cremated remains are also available.

The markers must have the inscription with the name, branch of service, year of birth and year of death. It may include the emblems of belief, rank and decorations earned. If the family would like to pay extra, additional items such as nicknames, etc. may be added but the VA must approve it.

A little known fact about being buried in a national cemetery is that you cannot reserve space ahead of time. Arrangements can only be made at the time of death. This may be an issue since there is no guarantee that spouses will have plots next to each other.

Burial at sea or the scattering of the cremated remains is available to all veterans and dependents. This service is provided by the Navy or the U.S. Coast Guard. A flag is required. If the flag is supplied by the family, it will be returned. Sea burials are done at the convenience of the military. Because of this, the family may not witness the sea burial. Bodies awaiting sea burial must be treated with embalming fluid that lasts at least 60 days. Lastly, a non-sealing metal casket must be used. The casket must carry 150lbs of extra weight.

With the options that the military offers, it should be a fairly inexpensive and straightforward process to be buried in a military cemetery. That is, as long as the veteran meets the requirements put forth by the military. Hopefully this article serves to educate you about the options that veterans and their families have when it comes to a military burial.

Michael Russell Your Independent guide to Funerals

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