Our veterans are one of our country’s greatest treasures. The soldier, the marine, the pilot, and the sailor who has protected us – has demonstrated the true meaning of honor. Each American veteran has done what so many of us are not brave enough to attempt—the hardships of war.
So many men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, while many will grow old and experience a life their comrades never saw. Whether old or young, deceased during active duty or after a long life, such men and women deserve appropriate death benefits. One such death benefit is Veteran funeral allowances, applicable to either cremation of burial interment.
History – Veteran Funeral Allowances
The idea of those allowances goes back to 1636 when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony were at war with the Pequot Indians. The Pilgrims enacted a law that committed them to support soldiers disabled in defending the colony. Also, during the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress of 1776 encouraged enlistments by authorizing pensions for soldiers who were disabled. In 1811, the first domiciliary and medical facility for veterans were authorized by the federal government. Congress established a new system of veterans benefits when the United States entered World War I in 1917.
So, in 1930 Congress established the Veterans Administration to provide services to the veterans of World War I and earlier wars. Then, three existing agencies became bureaus within the Veterans Administration. Major benefits include veteran’s compensation, veteran’s pension, survivor’s benefits, rehabilitation, and employment assistance, education assistance, home loan guarantees, and life insurance.
Specific Burial Benefits for Veterans
Specific burial benefits for veterans include the following;
Burial in a national cemetery: Eligible veterans can be buried for free in a national cemetery, including a grave site, opening and closing of the grave, a grave liner, and a headstone or marker.
Reimbursement for burial expenses: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may reimburse some or all of the burial expenses if the veteran’s death is service-related or the veteran was receiving VA benefits at the time of death.
Presidential Memorial Certificate: The VA provides a Presidential Memorial Certificate to honor the memory of the veteran. With an interment in a national cemetery this is usually presented to the next of kin during the interment service.
Honor Guard: Upon request, an honor guard will perform a military funeral honors ceremony, which includes folding and presenting the flag, and the playing of “Taps.” This is usually organized by the funeral home.
Burial flag: The VA provides an American flag to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran.
Headstone or marker: The VA provides a headstone or marker for the veteran’s grave at no cost.
Burial allowance: The VA may provide a burial allowance to help cover the cost of the funeral and burial for a non-service-connected death.
These are just some of the benefits available to eligible veterans. It’s important to note that not all veterans are eligible for all benefits, and eligibility requirements can vary depending on the benefit.
Here are some survivor benefits that may be available to eligible dependents of veterans:
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC): This is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible surviving spouses, children, and parents of veterans who died as a result of their military service or from a service-connected disability.
Survivor’s Pension: This is a tax-free monetary benefit payable to a low-income surviving spouse and/or unmarried child(ren) of a deceased veteran with wartime service.
Education and Training: Surviving spouses and dependents may be eligible for education and training benefits through the VA, including the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program.
Home Loans: The VA provides home loan benefits to surviving spouses of veterans who died as a result of a service-connected disability or who had a service-connected disability rating at the time of their death.
Life Insurance: Dependents of veterans may be eligible for life insurance benefits through the VA, including Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) and Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI).
Burial Benefits: Surviving spouses and dependents of veterans may be eligible for burial benefits, including burial in a national cemetery, reimbursement of burial expenses, and a headstone or marker.
These are just some of the survivor benefits available to eligible dependents of veterans. It’s important to note that eligibility requirements can vary depending on the benefit, and not all dependents are eligible for all benefits.
Burial allowances serve as “partial reimbursements of an eligible veteran’s burial and funeral costs”. Any United States veteran who has received an honorable discharge from their respective branch of service is entitled to some amount of VA burial allowance. However, VA burial allowances are rarely enough to cover all funeral costs. Whether the deceased was active duty or retired the allowance hardly makes a dent in the overall funeral cost, depending on applicable stipulations. For instance, a non-military-related death may receive as little as $300 for funeral expenses and $300 towards plot-internment, while an active duty-related death might be allowed up to $2,000.
American veterans deserve better death benefits, and such small allowances can easily leave surviving families looking for more affordable options, while also trying to maintain the dignity and honor that should go hand-in-hand with every veteran funeral.