Would it surprise you to know that only a fraction of veterans use one or more of the VA benefits they’ve earned? As you transition out of military service, you owe it to yourself and your family to understand the VA benefits for which you’re eligible so you can tap them if and when they’re needed.
One benefit that’s eventually needed by every veteran is the VA burial benefit. Whether or not you take advantage of it is up to you and your family. To help you plan ahead, you need to understand what is and isn’t included. Often veterans assume all funeral and burial costs are paid by the government. This isn’t the case. For full information about eligibility and burial benefits, call the VA at 1-800-827-1000. Meanwhile, here’s a brief overview.
Veterans who have been honorably discharged from military service are eligible for burial in one of 131 Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemeteries where space is available. The VA does not make funeral arrangements or perform cremations. Families need to make these arrangements.
Veterans may be entitled to a one-time death benefit toward the cost of burial. For those eligible, the VA pays up to $300 toward burial and funeral expenses, and $300 plot-interment allowance.
A government head stone or marker will be issued for burial in a veteran’s or private cemetery. Veterans may select a burial at sea, through the U.S. Navy Mortuary Affairs.
The VA provides an American flag to be given to the next of kin or close associate, at no cost, to drape the casket or accompany the urn. A Presidential Memorial Certificate honoring the veteran’s service and signed by the current president is also provided for the family.
The rendering of Military Funeral Honors for a veteran is free of charge and mandated by law. The honor detail will perform a ceremony including folding and presenting of the flag to the next of kin and the playing of Taps.
As you plan ahead and learn about your VA benefits, it’s also good to review your life insurance. You can use this Life Insurance Needs Estimator to help you calculate if you have enough protection for your family.