SPECIAL BENEFITS FOR VETERANS
Call us at (760) 966-0111 to find out how we can help you get your veterans funeral benefits.
“As a Former Marine Officer, I am personally committed to ensuring all deceased military veterans being laid to rest at sea with Sea Star Charters receive the benefits and full honors they deserve. My staff and I will provide special attention and counseling free or charge to the family members of the deceased veteran.” Captain Joe Cacciola
Burial benefits available for all eligible veterans, regardless of whether they are buried in a national cemetery, a private cemetery or cremated and buried at sea, include a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate and a government headstone or marker.
Department of Defense Policy
Department of Defense Instruction Number 1300.15
Subject: Military Funeral Support
It is Department of Defense policy that a military funeral honors ceremony shall be provided to eligible beneficiaries, upon request. Commanders at all levels must support paying a final tribute on behalf of a grateful nation to comrades in arms and must respond expeditiously and sensitively to request for military funeral support. Rendering military funeral honors reflects the high regard and respect accord to Military Service and demonstrates military professionalism to the Nation and the world.
All military services, upon request of next of kin or authorized representative, shall provide military funeral honors to an eligible beneficiary, consisting at a minimum of the ceremonial folding and presentation of the American flag and the sounding of Taps.
The Military Services are authorized to provide elements of honors such as, firing parties, pallbearers and color guards, in addition to those deemed mandatory, as described in paragraph 4.2.
Presidential Memorial Certificates – Eligibility
Eligible recipients include the next of kin and loved ones of honorably discharged deceased Veterans. More than one certificate may be provided.
Eligible recipients, or someone acting on their behalf, may apply for a PMC in person at any VA regional office or by U.S. mail or toll-free fax. Requests cannot be sent via email. Please be sure to enclose a copy of the Veteran’s discharge and death certificate to verify eligibility, as VA cannot process any request without proof of honorable military service. Please submit copies only, as VA will not return original documents.
If you have any questions about a certificate you have received, a request you have already sent in, or about the program in general, please contact the VA.
Burial Flags – Why Does VA Provide a Burial Flag?
A United States flag is provided, at no cost, to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased Veteran who served honorably in the U. S. Armed Forces. It is furnished to honor the memory of a Veteran’s military service to his or her country. VA will furnish a burial flag for memorialization for each other than dishonorable discharged
• Veteran who served during wartime
• Veteran who died on active duty after May 27, 1941
• Veteran who served after January 31, 1955
• peacetime Veteran who was discharged or released before June 27, 1950
• certain persons who served in the organized military forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines while in service of the U.S. Armed Forces and who died on or after April 25, 1951
• certain former members of the Selected Reserves
Who Is Eligible to Receive the Burial Flag?
Generally, the flag is given to the next-of-kin, as a keepsake, after its use during the funeral service. When there is no next-of-kin, VA will furnish the flag to a friend making request for it. For those VA national cemeteries with an Avenue of Flags, families of Veterans buried in these national cemeteries may donate the burial flags of their loved ones to be flown on patriotic holidays.
How Can You Apply?
You may apply for the flag by completing VA Form 21-2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes. You may get a flag at any VA regional office or U.S. Post Office. Generally, the funeral director will help you obtain the flag.
The law allows VA to issue one flag for a Veteran’s funeral. They cannot replace it if it is lost, destroyed, or stolen. However, some Veterans’ organizations or other community groups may be able to help you get another flag.
“In Memory Of” Markers
VA provides memorial headstones and markers with “In Memory Of” as the first line of inscription, to memorialize those whose remains have not been recovered or identified, were buried at sea, donated to science or cremated and scattered. Eligibility is the same as for regular headstones and markers. There is no fee when the “In Memory Of” marker is placed in a national cemetery. All installation fees at private cemeteries are the responsibility of the applicant. More information on headstones, markers, and medallions is available on the VA website.
Medallions in Lieu of Government Headstone / Marker
Public Law 110-157 enacted December 26, 2007, expanded VA authority to provide a medallion instead of a headstone or marker for Veterans’ graves in private cemeteries when the grave is already marked with a privately-purchased headstone or marker. Claimants will have the option to apply for either a traditional headstone or marker to place on the grave, or a medallion to affix to a privately-purchased headstone or marker. VA anticipates the medallion will be available during 2010. Current information regarding medallion availability is located at www.cem.va.gov. Presidential Memorial Certificates are issued upon request to recognize the United States military service of honorably discharged deceased Veterans. Next of kin, relatives and other loved ones may apply for a certificate by mailing, e-mailing, or faxing a completed and signed VA Form 40-0247 along with a copy of the Veteran’s military discharge documents or proof of honorable military service. The form and eligibility requirements can be found at www.cem.va.gov. All requests must be sent with supporting military documents or proof of honorable military service.
VA will furnish a U.S. burial flag to memorialize:
• Veterans who served during wartime or after Jan. 31, 1955.
• Veterans who were entitled to retired pay for service in the Reserve or National Guard, or would have been entitled if over age 60.
- Members or former members of the Selected Reserve who served their initial obligation, or were discharged for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, or died while a member of the Selected Reserve.
The next of kin may apply for the flag at any VA regional office or U.S. Post Office by completing VA Form 21-2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes.
Reimbursement of Burial Expenses
VA will pay a burial allowance up to $2,000 if the Veteran’s death is service-connected. In such cases, the person who bore the Veteran’s burial expenses may claim reimbursement from VA. In some cases, VA will pay the cost of transporting the remains of a Veteran whose death was service-connected to the nearest national cemetery with available gravesites. There is no time limit for filing reimbursement claims in service-connected death cases.
VA will pay a $300 burial and funeral allowance for Veterans who, at time of death, were entitled to receive pension or compensation or would have been entitled if they were not receiving military retirement pay. Eligibility also may be established when death occurs in a VA facility, a VA contracted nursing home or a State Veterans nursing home. In cases in which the Veteran’s death was not service-connected, claims must be filed within two years after burial or cremation.
Military Funeral Honors
Upon request, DoD will provide military funeral honors consisting of folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of “Taps.” A funeral honors detail consists of two or more uniformed members of the armed forces, with at least one member from the deceased’s branch of service.
Verification of Service
When applying for military funeral honors, verification of service is required.
Your DD214 is perhaps the most important document you can acquire. It substantiates your military service and is used to establish your eligibility for benefits
The term “DD-214” is often used generically to mean “separation papers” or “discharge papers,” no matter what form number was used to document active duty military service. The term has, also, a specific technical meaning: it is a Report of Separation from Active Duty. For non-active duty, Reservists are issued either an Order of Separation or a Letter of Separation. The NGB22 is the standard National Guard separation document.
The report of separation form issued in most recent years for separations from active duty is the DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. Before January 1, 1950 (the creation of the Department of Defense, August 10, 1949), several similar forms were used by the military services to denote military separations including the WD AGO 53, WD AGO 55, WD AGO 53-55, NAVPERS 553, NAVMC 78PD, and the NAVCG 553. WD – War Department. AGO – Adjutant General’s Office. NAVPERS – Navy Personnel. NAVMC – Navy – Marine Corps. NAVCG – Navy – Coast Guard.
Who Can Obtain a DD 214
A veteran’s military records are protected by the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. § 552a (the Privacy Act or the Act). During the veteran’s lifetime, only the veteran can access his or her records – unless, of course, you have a Power of Attorney, Legal Guardianship, Executorship or other legal appointment.
If the veteran is deceased, then the law permits the next-of-kin to access the veteran’s records. Next-of-kin is statutorily defined as father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter or un-remarried surviving spouse. You will also have to provide proof of death such as a copy of the death certificate, an obituary or a letter from your funeral director.
How to Obtain a DD 214
You may submit an application for a copy of the DD 214 using Standard Form 180. SF-180, the Request Pertaining to Military Records is a three-page authorization form of the U.S. military. The form may be filled out by a veteran of the U.S. military or their surviving next-of-kin to view and/or release a person’s military record.
You may also use a private records retrieval service such as Touchstone Research Group. They will charge you a fee to obtain the DD 214 in an expedited manner. (In a matter of days, not weeks or months) For further information click on the link provided.
Sea Star Charters can provide telephone numbers for the local funeral honors offices for all armed forces. Please call us at (760) 966-0111 if you have questions about these veterans benefits.