10 Important Facts About Your VA Burial Benefits
Because La Vista Memorial Park providers serves more veterans than any other funeral service provider, we are sensitive to veterans’ needs, including understanding and obtaining the burial benefits they’ve earned through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Many veterans may not be fully aware of the benefits due them from the government as thanks for their service. La Vista Memorial Park providers take the responsibility of helping veterans receive the benefits they deserve. For that reason, we’ve compiled this list of “10 Important Facts About Your VA Burial Benefits” as a guide. For more information, or to obtain any necessary benefit request forms, contact La Vista Memorial Park.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits do not cover all the funeral or cremation arrangements of honorably discharged veterans.
Still there are certain monetary, recognition and service benefits that may be available. 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
These standard guidelines are provided as an overview, the VA must rule on your exact benefits.
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. La Vista Memorial Park will be glad to help secure one.
A 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. For your family’s convenience, la Vista Memorial Park will be glad to help request your flag. 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.
Military Funeral Honors ceremonies must be scheduled in advance.
La Vista Memorial Park works with various veterans organizations to assist in the provision of military funeral honors. 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.
Veterans’ caskets are not free.
Only when death occurs while on active duty are veterans caskets provided without charge. As part of our service to veterans, La Vista Memorial Park offers caskets and other merchandise at a discounted price to members of the American Legion and VFW.
A “Presidential Memorial Certificate” must be requested.
La Vista Memorial Park regularly assist families in obtaining Presidential Memorial Certificates. Initiated in March, 1962 by President John F. Kennedy, a “Presidential Memorial Certificates” are an engraved paper certificates, 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.
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 $300) and a plot allowance (up to $300) may be given. To receive a VA burial allowance you must meet the following conditions:
- Payment for the veteran’s burial must be made without any reimbursement from a government agency or other source, and
- The veteran must have been disabled due to a service-related injury.
In addition, at least one of the following conditions must be met:
- The veteran died because of service-related disability, or
- The veteran was receiving VA pension or compensation, or
- The veteran died in a VA hospital or nursing home under VA contract.
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, La Vista Memorial Park will be glad to help secure one.
There are eligibility requirements for burial in a VA national cemetery.
Any member of the Armed Forces of the U.S. 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 un-remarried 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 (when 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 in urned in VA national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains.
It is 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.
Headstones or markers for a burial space 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, La Vista Memorial Park will help secure one.
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 www.archives.gov. If your family does not have from SF 180 at the time of death, La Vista Memorial Park will help secure one.
If your family does not have form SF 180 at the time of death, La Vista Memorial Park will be glad to help secure one.