Burial and Memorial benefits are available for eligible service members, Veterans, reservists, National Guard members, and eligible family members. Service include interment, headstones and markers, and Presidential memorial certificates. VA operates 128 national cemeteries in the United States and Puerto Rico, together with oversight and management of 33 soldiers' lots, confederate cemeteries, and monument sites.  

10 Important Facts About Your VA Burial Benefits

We also know that many veterans may not fully understand the benefits to which they’re entitled. Jerns Funeral Chapel takes the responsibility of helping veterans receive the benefits they deserve very seriously. 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 forms and paperwork, contact us at 360-734-0070 to request a free Jerns Veterans Planning Guide.

Fact 1: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits do not cover all the funeral arrangements of honorably discharged veterans.

There are certain monetary, recognition and service benefits that may be available. However, reimbursement for funeral 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

Standard guidelines are provided as an overview, but only the VA can rule on your exact benefits.

Fact 2: 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, our Licensed Funeral Director will be glad to help secure one.

Fact 3: 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. 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. For your family’s convenience, we will be glad to help them request your flag.

Fact 4: Military Funeral Honors ceremonies must be scheduled in advance.

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. Jerns Funeral Chapel works with various veterans organizations to assist in the provision of military funeral honors.

Fact 5: Veterans’ caskets are not free.

As a standard policy, neither the VA nor the various branches of service provide a free casket for a deceased veteran, unless death occurs while on active duty.

Fact 6: A "Presidential Memorial Certificate" must be requested.

Initiated in March 1962 by President John F. Kennedy, a "Presidential Memorial Certificate" is an engraved paper certificate, 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. We can assist your family in obtaining this certificate.

Fact 7: 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. In order to receive a VA burial allowance you must meet the following conditions:

Payment for the veteran’s burial was made without any reimbursement from a government agency or other source, and
Were disabled due to a service-related injury, or
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.

In order 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 we will be glad to help secure one.

Fact 8: There are eligibility requirements for burial in a VA national cemetery.

Any member of the Armed Forces of the United States 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 unmarried surviving spouse and minor children of an eligible person are also entitled to this benefit.

An assigned gravesite (if space if 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 inurned 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. 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.

Fact 9: 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, we will help secure one.

Fact 10: 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, we will help secure one.

To receive a free Veterans Planning Guide, contact Jerns Funeral Chapel at 360-734-0070. One of Licensed Funeral Directors will gladly deliver and review the guide with you, so you can take advantage of all the VA burial benefits you earned through your service.

Burial and Memorial benefits are available for eligible service members, Veterans, reservists, National Guard members, and eligible family members. Service include interment, headstones and markers, and Presidential memorial certificates. VA operates 128 national cemeteries in the United States and Puerto Rico, together with oversight and management of 33 soldiers' lots, confederate cemeteries, and monument sites.  

For our Veteran's Convenience , we have included some useful VA forms below

VA Flag Application

VA Burial Allowance Eligibility

VA Burial Allowance Application

Presidential Certificate Application

Form 180 - Requesting Military Records

VA Marker Application