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Military Funeral Questions

Military funerals are performed by the military for a service member of any military branch who meets the requirements of a military burial. Questions about who is entitled to military burial honors, military flag presentation and other aspects of military funeral procedures can lead to legal questions like the ones answered by Experts below.

What is the military protocol on who receives the flag at a funeral?

The flag is usually presented to the military member's next of kin. However, if there isn't a next of kin, a close friend or associate would receive the flag. Here is how the rules read:

The Application for a Burial Flag from the VA specifically states on it, in section F:
“F. Who is eligible to receive a burial flag?
Only one flag may be issued for each deceased veteran. Generally, the flag is given to the next-of-kin as a keepsake after its use during the funeral service. The flag is given to the following person(s) in the order of precedence listed:
surviving spouse
children, according to age
parents, including adoptive,
stepparents, and foster parents
brothers or sisters, including brothers or sisters of half blood
uncles or aunts
nephews or nieces
others, such as cousins or grandparents”

The VA will give the flag to a friend who has a request for it if there is no next of kin. However, if there are no relatives and no request for the flag, it should go to the nearest VA.

What funeral expenses does the VA pay for a Veteran?

There are several benefits that are taken care of through the VA. Some of these benefits include; a gravesite in a national cemetery where space is available, grave preparation, perpetual care, government issued gravestone or marker, a flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate.

For eligibility criteria, see 38 CFR §§3.1600 (Table of Contents & Burial), 3.1601 (Claims & Evidence), 3.1602 - 3.1603 (Special conditions governing payments /Authority for burial of certain unclaimed bodies), 3.1604 (Non VA), 3.1605 (VHA), 3.1606 (Transportation), 3.1607 - 3.1609 (Cost of flags /Non allowable expenses /Forfeiture), 3.1610 - 3.1611 (Burial in National cemeteries /Official Department of Veterans Affairs representation at funeral), 3.1612 (Marker). Follow this link to the VA site in regards to benefits.

If a soldier has OTH discharge, will the military pay for their funeral?

The wording of the military in regards to a military funeral is a funeral will be performed for anyone who is discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. You should begin with filing for VA benefits in your area and speaking to local groups who perform military funerals. Usually, the groups will review the information pertaining to the soldiers discharge and determine whether or not they can perform the funeral. Meanwhile, the VA will have a chance to begin processing any possible funeral benefits.

Does the VA provide any assisted living or funeral benefits for the widows of veterans?

There are three possible options to look into for benefits for the widows of veterans. The first option is Aid and Assistance (A&A).

The Aid and Attendance (A&A) Pension provides benefits for veterans and surviving spouses who require the regular attendance of another person to assist in eating, bathing, dressing and undressing.

The A&A Pension can provide up to $1,632 per month to a veteran or spouse of vet.

To apply for A&A, you will need the VA Form 21-534. You can get that form here:

This benefit can be used with Medicare. You can also contact the VFW or DAV for assistance in applying for these benefits. They have experience in dealing with the documents and can speed up the process by ensuring few mistakes.

Your next option is widow benefits which you have two main avenues to persue and you can apply for both benefits. The first pension is Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and the second pension is a Death Pension.

If the widow's spouse was VA disabled, she would be eligible for DIC. There isn't a VA requirement for disability in order to qualify for the death pension; however the widow cannot make over $1200 per month.

Is a DoD retiree qualified for military funeral honors?

You will be considered eligible for a military funeral if you meet one of these requirements:

- Military members on active duty or in the Selected Reserve.
- Former military members 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 departed under conditions other than dishonorable.
- Former military members discharged from the Selected Reserve due to a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.
You will have to submit a DD214 form to the Department of Defense. Here are the eligibility requirements for a military funeral per the Department of Defense:

A military funeral is a service offered by the military to honor a fallen soldier or veteran. The military funeral can be simple and quiet or grand with military flare. If you want to learn more about military funerals and who is eligible, you can ask an Experts.
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