Depending on the chosen final arrangements, specific funeral benefits are administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), or by the state in which the burial or inurnment takes place.
Burial or Inurnment in a National Cemetery
VA burial benefits include a grave site in any of the country's 131 national cemeteries which have available space. When a veteran or a qualifying family member is buried or inurned in a national cemetery, at Arlington, or in a National Park cemetery, the government will pay for the opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care of the grave, a government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family.
The National Cemetery Administration is responsible for verifying eligibility for burial in VA national cemeteries. For detailed information on the rules regarding burial of veterans, their spouses, and dependents in a national cemetery, visit http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/burial_benefits/eligible.asp
Headstone or Marker
The VA will provide a standard headstone or grave marker at no cost to the family. For specific information on headstones and markers, visit http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/hmm/index.asp
The VA honors a veteran's past service to our country by providing an American flag to drape the casket or accompany the cremation urn during the funeral service. The flag is generally given as a keepsake to the next-of-kin, or close friend of the family, following the service. See
Presidential Memorial Certificate
This engraved paper certificate honors the memory of the deceased veteran, and is signed by the current President of the United States. Instructions for requesting a certificate are found at http://www.cem.va.gov/pmc.asp
Scattering of Cremated Remains at Sea
This ceremony is provided by the US Navy for a deceased veteran from any branch of the armed forces. The Person Authorized to Direct Disposition (usually a family member) will be responsible for expenses associated with cremating the deceased. The scattering ceremony itself is provided by the US Navy at no cost to the family. Additional information is available at http://www.navy.mil/navydata/nav_legacy.asp?id=204
Burial at Sea for Intact (Casketed) Remains
This committal ceremony is available for a deceased veteran from any branch of the armed forces. There are specific requirements for preparing the casketed remains for burial at sea. The Person Authorized to Direct Disposition will be responsible for all expenses incurred during this preparation. The committal ceremony itself is provided by the US Navy at no cost to the family. The scattering or committal ceremony is performed while the ship is deployed, therefore, family members are not allowed to be present. The commanding officer of the ship assigned to perform the ceremony will make notification to the family of the date, time, latitude and longitude, once the scattering or committal service has been completed. For detailed information on eligibility and how to request a burial at sea for either cremated or casketed remains, see http://www.navy.mil/navydata/nav_legacy.asp?id=204
Since the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act in 2000, every armed forces veteran and member on active duty or in the active reserve has the right to be buried with patriotic flourishes provided by a military honor guard. Upon the family's request, every eligible veteran will receive a basic military funeral honors ceremony. This ceremony includes members of the military serving as pallbearers, the folding and presentation of the United States burial flag, and the sounding of Taps, at no cost to the family. In certain instances, a rifle volley (21 gun salute) is also included in the ceremony. To view the full US Code regarding military honors, visit http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/1491
Burial or Inurnment in a State Cemetery
If the veteran or his qualifying dependents are buried in a state veterans cemetery, burial services are provided by the individual state, not by the VA. It is important for the family of the deceased to check with the individual state veterans cemetery regarding policies, benefits, costs, etc. Available services can vary widely from one state to another, and even from one state veterans cemetery to another within the same state. For general resources on state veterans cemeteries, visit http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/grants/veterans_cemeteries.asp