Who is eligible?
To be eligible you must be a veteran discharged or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable, and have completed the required period of service. U.S. Armed Forces members who die on active duty are also eligible, as are spouses and dependent children of eligible living and deceased veterans, and of current and deceased armed forces members. Contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at (800) 827-1000 for more information.
Reimbursement of Burial Expenses
VA will pay a burial allowance up to $2,000 if the veteran's death is service connected. VA also will pay the cost of transporting the remains of a service-disabled veteran to the national cemetery nearest the home of a deceased that has available gravesites. In such cases, the person who bore the veteran's burial expenses may claim reimbursement from VA.
VA will pay a $300 burial and funeral expense allowance for veterans who, at time of death, were entitled to receive pension or compensation or would have been entitled to compensation but for receipt of military retirement pay. Eligibility also is established when death occurs in a VA facility or a nursing home with which VA contracted. Additional costs of transportation of the remains may be reimbursed. There is no time limit for filing reimbursement claims of service-connected deaths. In other deaths, claims must be filed within two years after permanent burial or cremation.
VA will pay a $300 plot allowance when the veteran is not buried in a cemetery that is under U.S. Government jurisdiction if the veteran is discharged from active duty because of disability incurred or aggravated in line of duty, if the veteran was in receipt of compensation or pension or would have been in receipt of compensation but for receipt of military retired pay, or if the veteran died while hospitalized by VA. The plot allowance is not payable solely on wartime service. If the veteran is buried without charge for the cost of a plot or interment in a state-owned cemetery reserved solely for veteran burials, the $300 plot allowance may be paid to the state. Burial expenses paid by the deceased's employer or a state agency will not be reimbursed.
Outer Burial Receptacle Allowance
VA provides an allowance towards the private purchase of an outer burial receptacle for use in a National Cemetery. The allowance is recalculated every year. The allowance payable for calendar year 2009 is $254.
A United States flag is provided, at no cost, to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased Veteran who served honorably in the U. S. Armed Forces. It is furnished to honor the memory of a Veteran’s military service to his or her country. VA will furnish a burial flag for memorialization for each other than dishonorable discharged…
- Veteran who served during wartime
- Veteran who was entitled to retired pay for service in the Reserve or National Guard, or would have been entitled, if over the age of 60
- Members or former members of the Selected Reserve who served initial obligation, or were discharged for disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, or died while a member of the SR.
Who Is Eligible to Receive the Burial Flag?
Generally, the flag is given to the next-of-kin, as a keepsake, after its use during the funeral service. When there is no next-of-kin, VA will furnish the flag to a friend making request for it. For those VA national cemeteries with an Avenue of Flags, families of Veterans buried in these national cemeteries may donate the burial flags of their loved ones to be flown on patriotic holidays.
How Can You Apply?
At Butler Funeral Homes, we assist the Veteran families that we are privileged to serve in applying for and obtaining a flag.
You may also apply for the flag by completing VA Form 21-2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes. You may get a flag at any VA regional office or U.S. Post Office.
Can a Burial Flag Be Replaced?
The law allows us to issue one flag for a Veteran's funeral. It cannot be replaced it if it is lost, destroyed, or stolen. However, some Veterans' organizations or other community groups may be able to assist you in obtaining another flag.
How Should the Burial Flag Be Displayed?
The proper way to display the flag depends upon whether the casket is open or closed. VA Form 21-2008 provides the correct method for displaying and folding the flag. The burial flag is not suitable for outside display because of its size and fabric. It is made of cotton and can easily be damaged by weather.
Burial in National Cemeteries
Burial benefits in a VA national cemetery include the gravesite, grave liner, opening and closing of the grave, and perpetual care. Many national cemeteries have columbaria for the inurnment of cremated remains or special gravesites for the burial of cremated remains. Headstones and markers and their placement are provided at the government's expense.
An eligible veteran must have been discharged or separated from active duty under honorable or general conditions and have completed the required period of service. Persons entitled to retired pay as a result of 20 years creditable service with a reserve component are eligible. A U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in a war also may be eligible.
Spouses and minor children of eligible veterans and of armed forces members also may be buried in a national cemetery. A surviving spouse of an eligible veteran who married a nonveteran, and whose remarriage was terminated by death or divorce, is eligible for burial in a national cemetery.
Headstones and Markers
VA provides headstones and markers for the unmarked graves of veterans anywhere in the world and for eligible dependents of veterans buried in national, state veteran or military cemeteries.
Flat bronze, flat granite, flat marble, upright granite and upright marble types are available to mark the grave in a style consistent with the place of burial. Niche markers also are available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains.
Headstones and markers are inscribed with the name of the deceased, the years of birth and death, and branch of service. Optional items that also may be inscribed at VA expense are: military grade, rank or rate; war service such as World War II; months and days of birth and death; an emblem reflecting one's beliefs; valor awards; and the Purple Heart. Additional items may be inscribed at private expense.
When burial is in a national, state veteran or military cemetery, the headstone or marker is ordered through the cemetery, which will place it on the grave. Information regarding style, inscription, shipping and placement can be obtained from the cemetery.
When burial occurs in a cemetery other than a national cemetery or a state veteran’s cemetery, the headstone or marker must be applied for from VA. It is shipped at government expense to the consignee designated on the application. VA, however, does not pay the cost of placing the headstone or marker on the grave.
Public Law 110-157, signed on December 26, 2007, allows the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to furnish a Government headstone or marker for the graves of eligible Veterans who died on or after November 1, 1990, regardless of whether the grave is already marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker.
Public Law 110-157, also gives the VA authority to “furnish, upon request, a medallion or other device of a design determined by the Secretary to signify the deceased’s status as a Veteran, to be attached to a headstone or marker furnished at private expense.” This benefit will be available in lieu of a Government-furnished headstone or marker, for Veterans in privately marked graves who died on or after Nov. 1, 1990.
Upon request, the Department of Defense will provide military honors consisting of folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of “Taps.” A funeral honors detail consists of two or more uniformed members of the Armed Forces, with at least one member from the deceased’s branch of service.
Butler Funeral Homes is honored to make arrangements for this final demonstration of respect and gratitude.
Additional VA Benefits Information
Additional and further detailed information about VA Burial Benefits can be obtained by calling the VA Commission of Sangamon County at (217) 753-6681 or by visiting the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website at www.va.gov.