Formal military honors are available to all eligible service members upon the request of their families. This benefit is secured in the National Defense Authorization Act (eff. 01/00), Section 578 of Public Law 106-65 which mandates that the United States Armed Forces shall render honors at a military funeral for any eligible veteran. We have specific information on Veteran Funerals.
An honor guard detail consists of at least two Armed Forces members. Honor ceremonies of veterans who served 20 years, medal of honor recipients, higher rank officers, and active duty veterans may have more elaborate events. All honor ceremonies will, however, include the formal flag presentation, playing of taps, and sometimes a rifle salute.
Normally with honors the military only pays a recorded version of taps. We prefer to use a person who is actually playing the bugle. For this use use Bugles Across America. A national organization that provides veterans to play bugle funeral services. For details on this organization and its San Diego leader see our blog entry Bugles Across America. For an in-depth explanation of military honors see our blog article “The Significance of Military Funeral Customs“
It does not matter how long a veteran has served in the military, only that they have completed their service under honorable discharge status.
There is no time limit for applying for honors/interment in a National Cemetery.
After you watch the video, download the brochure detailing our many options for veterans – both veteran cremation and casket burial.
The Veterans Administration provides a flag at NO cost. It is often draped over the casket or placed beside the urn.
After the military honors service, the flag is presented to the next of kin.
It is not a durable fabric that can be flown outdoors, so it is meant as a keepsake item for display.
We usually obtain the flag for families, but to apply directly, please use the Veteran Flag Presentation Form provided to apply.
The Presidential Certificate is a unique program started in 1962 by beloved former President John F. Kennedy and continues to this day. The Presidential Certificate is an engraved high-quality vellum certificate with the official Presidential Seal. The current elected President of the United States signs it.
This particular recognition states, in part,
“This certificate is awarded by a grateful nation in recognition of the devoted and selfless consecration to the service of our country in the Armed Forces of the United States.”
Depending on the availability of resources, the military may be able to offer additional honors for your loved ones’ service such as;
- Rifle detail
- Color guard
- Caisson – a 2-wheeled vehicle for artillery ammunition attachable to a horse-drawn limber
- Military flyover
Military Honors Application Process
If you would like to take advantage of the military benefits you will need the discharge papers (normally DD-214). Do NOT send the originals but make certain to send a copy. The funeral director will usually help you apply, but if you need to do it yourself the application form(s) can be found on our website under the menu Funeral Support Information. Once the form(s) are completed and you are ready to submit them, you may do so in the following ways;
- In person at any regional Veteran Administration office
- By faxing the application to 1-800-455-7143
- By mailing the application toMemorial Programs Service (41B)
Department of Veterans Affairs
5109 Russell Road
Quantico, VA 22134-3903
Having military honors at the burial is an honor. Please take advantage of this addition to the military interment; it is a cherished privilege.
- Veterans who died while on active duty or in the Selected Reserve
- Veterans who served on active duty and departed under conditions other than dishonorable
- Former military members who completed at least one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service in the Selected Reserve and were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.
Categories of veterans are ineligible for military honors;
- If they have been convicted of capital offenses and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole or receive the death penalty.
- If they were discharged from the military under dishonorable conditions, which include dishonorable discharge, bad conduct discharge, or dismissal from the service by court-martial, other than honorable conditions, they might not be eligible.
- For officers, resignation for the good of the service in lieu of courts-martial results in a discharge characterization of other than honorable conditions.
We have listed some additional questions below that many people have regarding military honors. You will find more information on Military Honors and other topics relating to the military in the many articles published in our blog; please see -> blog entries on military matters.
Do I have to pay to have military honors ?
Military honors are provided free of charge by the Department of Defense to the family. It is a right that the veteran has earned.
Can a Veteran Have More the One Honor's Ceremony?
How to Request Military Honors ?
Generally, the funeral director will organize the Military Honors with the appropriate military organization on behalf of the family. If the family has had cremains for an extended period and they are not currently working with a mortuary, they may contact the Military Funeral Honors coordinator directly.
- ARMY: 858-573-7049 FAX: 619-615-2275
- NAVY: 1-800-326-9631 FAX: 619-532-3941
- MARINE: 866-826-3628
- COAST GUARD: 619-278-7676
- AIR FORCE: 951-655-6105
History of Rifle Salute
With military honors, three volleys are fired. This comes from an old battlefield custom that allowed the warring side to remove the dead from the field of battle. Three volleys would be fired when the dead have been released to indicate that it was time for the fight to begin again.
How May I Get Copies Of Military Records
The military identifies “Next of Kin” for this purpose as Surviving Spouse that has not remarried, Father, Mother, Son, Daughter, Sister, Brother.
How do I schedule and Interment in a National Cemetery
Usually, the funeral director you are working with will do this. However, if you have had the cremains for an extended period and are not currently working with a funeral home, you may schedule an interment yourself.
Could you fax all discharge documentation to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-866-900-6417 and follow up with a phone call to 1-800-535-1117?