As veterans with honorable discharges pass away, many families are unaware of VA benefits for surviving family members to which they are entitled through the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense.
For the surviving families of deceased veterans there are many benefits available to commemorate and honor a service member’s military career. By applying to the Department of Veterans Affairs, family members may be eligible for a pension, burial flag, headstones, presidential certificates and others.
Burial Flags for Veterans
At no cost to the family, a United States flag is provided to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran who served honorably in the United States armed forces. The furnishing of a burial flag is meant to memorialize the veteran’s military service to his or her country.
The flag is generally given to the next of kin after its use during the funeral service. If there is no next of kin, a friend requesting the flag may have it presented to them. For VA national cemeteries with an Avenue of Flags, families may donate the burial flags to be flown on patriotic holidays.
Burial flags cannot be replaced by the Department of Veterans Affairs if lost, destroyed or stolen. In order to obtain a flag, the applicant must fill out VA Form 27-2008. Flags may be picked up at a VA regional office or the U.S. Post Office.
Military Funeral Honors
Under a program called “Honoring Those Who Served,” the Department of Defense is responsible for providing military funeral honors at the family’s request. The ceremony includes folding and presenting the United States burial flag and the playing of Taps.
Military funeral honors consists of two or more uniformed persons, with at least one being a member of the veteran’s parent service. The local funeral home handling arrangements can also arrange the military honors.
Headstones or Grave Markers for Veterans
Headstones or grave markers for the deceased veteran can be applied for through the VA by filling out VA Form 40-1330 if the veteran is being buried at a private cemetery. The headstone or marker must be applied for by the next of kin or an authorized representative. The veteran’s military discharge documents must be provided.
When a burial or memorial is at a national, post or state veterans’ cemetery, a headstone or marker will be ordered by cemetery officials.
By request, the VA also provides a medallion that can be affixed to an existing privately purchased headstone or marker. The medallion is inscribed with the word “Veteran” across the top and the branch of service at the bottom. In order to apply for the medallion, next of kin should file VA Form 40-1330M. Veterans are not entitled to both the headstone or marker and the medallion.
Presidential Memorial Certificate
All veterans’ surviving family members are entitled to a Presidential Memorial Certificate. More than one certificate may be provided to the next of kin and loved ones. The certificate is meant to express the country’s grateful recognition of the veterans’ service. Those interested must file VA Form 40-0247.
Monthly VA Pensions for Surviving Family Members
Surviving family members also may be entitled to a monthly pension from the VA if they meet certain requirements. If you have been denied a pension you believe you are entitled to, please contact Bosley & Bratch.