While everyone should take the time to consider their end-of-life plans with family and loved ones, that process is all the more important for veterans and active service members.
There are several circumstances, benefits, and services these men and women will have to consider that don’t apply to the civilian population. These benefits apply to funeral and disposition costs and provide aid to their surviving family members.
By understanding how the unique elements of membership in the Armed Forces impact end-of-life planning, veterans, service members, and their loved ones can rest assured knowing their future is stable.
1. How Do Veteran Burial Benefits Work?
Any discussion regarding end-of-life planning for veterans should start with a thorough understanding of the offerings on the table from the U.S. government. As part of military service, the government provides an array of services and opportunities to lessen the burden on families of the deceased.
However, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, there are specific terms veterans must have met – such as honorable discharge from the armed forces – to qualify for these benefits. Some of these items include:
- Burial or interment in a national cemetery, which means continual upkeep and care, a marker, a flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate
- Reimbursement for funeral-related costs and burial or interment expenses, within certain limits
- Life insurance options under TRICARE
- Home loans or basic housing allowances
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, a monthly stipend for which some veterans’ families will qualify
2. Can Veterans Make Pre-Need Burial Plans?
The US Department of Veteran Affairs always offers pre-need burial services. Veterans must apply for a pre-need eligibility decision letter. The spouses and children of veterans are also entitled to pre-need burial planning if they meet specific terms.
You may be eligible for pre-need burial services if you are:
- A veteran who was discharged for any reason aside from a dishonorable discharge
- A Veteran or service member’s spouse or dependent child
- Unmarried adult dependent children of veterans and service members.
The decision is based on the veteran’s service history, or if the application is for a spouse or unmarried adult child, it will be based on the service history of the veteran that is sponsoring them.
For more information on eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery, click here.
3. How Do You Apply for Veteran Burial Benefits?
- You can apply online on the website for the US Department of Veterans Affairs
- If you would like to submit a paper application, you must download and complete VA Form 21P-530 and mail it to the Pension Management Center that serves your state. To locate the Pension Management Center that serves your state, click
- You can also work with a representative or visit your regional benefit office.
4. What Documents Are Required for VA Burial Benefits?
There are documents that are required to be presented when applying for VA burial benefits, so it is recommended to locate these documents and keep them safe and organized.
In order to apply for VA burial benefits, the following documents are required:
- Social Security number or VA file number
- A copy of the Veteran’s DD214
- A copy of the Veteran’s death certificate
- Documents for transportation costs ( If transportation was required for the Veteran’s remains )
It is advised to enlist the help of a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) who can help you file your claim.
5. How Can I Preserve a Veteran’s Legacy?
End-of-life planning for veterans is both an emotional and complex task. It can be challenging to make arrangements without their involvement, but keeping that veteran’s memory and experiences alive is crucial.
There are two primary ways to embrace that task.
- One involves making arrangements for your veteran loved one to tell their story as often as possible.
If a veteran has grandchildren, make sure to pass on their stories to younger generations – this will help ensure their legacy and serve an everlasting testament to how they served their country.
Veterans carry important stories – sometimes burdensome and sometimes enlightening – that serve as bridges to the past.
- The other way to prepare for a veteran’s passing is to ensure all of their belongings are adequately protected and enshrined, where appropriate.
Because veterans often hold onto many artifacts and keepsakes, it isn’t enough to pack up all the old possessions into a box and stow them away. In some cases, these items tell a compelling story.
That’s why many veterans and their families choose cremation and interment over traditional burial – columbariums provide an elegant, safe way to keep veterans’ important belongings on display as part of a timeless memorial.
End-of-Life Planning for Veterans is Essential
As with any end-of-life planning conversation, there are many steps to take into consideration.
National Cremation is the nation’s oldest and largest provider of simple and affordable cremation services. Whether you have an immediate need or want to plan your cremation services in advance, we’re always available to assist you and your family. Contact us online or call (855)-469-9474 today.