We Have A Heart For Veterans And Their Families. We truly believe that the men and women who answered our nation’s call embody the ideals Americans hold so dear. Because they have proven their devotion to their fellow citizens and to a grateful nation, we all owe them the same respect and devotion in return.
Understanding VA Burial Benefits
Understanding Veteran’s Funeral and Burial Benefits in Texas
Rob Shalvey, Director of Family Service
Understanding Veteran's Funeral and Burial Benefits in Texas
Rob Shalvey, Director of Family Service
Lesli Johnson, Managing Partner
Veterans of our nation's armed services have a wide variety of benefits after their term of service is over. Often, some of the most misunderstood are the Veterans Administration funeral and burial benefits. Additionally, benefit levels can vary based on someone's length of service and the nature of the discharge. Texas has additional options for our great state's veterans as well. While we cannot cover every conceivable situation, we hope this gives you a helpful guide to what is provided to those who served our country and worked hard to preserve our liberty.
The most important factor in accessing a veteran's benefits is a copy of their discharge, VA form DD214. It is critically important to have access to this record as it is the only form the VA will accept to determine eligibility for benefits. Certificates of retirement or other documents that look like awards or farmable certificates are generally not acceptable. It is also important to note that many veterans may have been issued multiple DD214 documents if they had multiple enlistments or changed branches of service. While a copy of the last issue may suffice, it is helpful to have all of them on file. We highly recommend providing us with a copy in advance to keep with our secure files at the funeral home.
Eligibility for benefits is determined at the time by the VA. Below you will find a list of those who are usually available, although certain conditions may apply.
· Veterans of the US armed forces who are discharged under conditions other than Dishonorable.
· Certain members of the reserve components and the Reserve Officers Training Corps
· Certain Members of the National Guard
· Commissioned officers of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the US Public Health Service
· Qualifying WWII Merchant Marines
· Certain members of the Philippine Armed Forces
· Spouses and qualifying dependents. (Dependents are children under 23 if a full-time student)
The most common question regarding eligibility is concerning reservists and National Guard. Generally speaking, a reservist or guards person must have been deployed overseas on active duty during a recognized conflict.
Veterans, their spouses, and qualified dependents may be buried in any of our countries National Cemeteries. The VA covers the cost of the burial space, outer burial container, interment, and marker. Spaces are assigned at the time they are needed and cannot be reserved ahead of time. Certain cemeteries, like Arlington National Cemetery, have limited availability. Navy and Marine veterans may also request burial at sea.
In addition to National Cemeteries, Texas has established several State Veteran's Cemeteries. The eligibility requirements are the same as are the burial options provided. While Texas veteran cemeteries do not reserve spaces in advance, Texas veterans may pre-register with their chosen cemetery. You may pre-register by contacting the state cemetery of your choice and providing them with a copy of your DD214. The cemetery will verify your eligibility and keep your discharge on file.
Veterans are eligible for financial reimbursement at various levels depending on the nature of their service and the conditions surrounding their passing. Most veterans are eligible to receive up to $300 funeral allowance and up to $300 plot cost allowance if they are not buried in a veterans cemetery. If a veteran dies of a service-connected disability, the funeral allowance increases up to $2,000. If a veteran dies in a VA hospital or nursing home, additional reimbursement may be available for certain transportation expenses.
It is important to note that monetary benefits are a reimbursement. To claim the benefits, a family must apply for VA burial benefits, a certified copy of the death certificate (one provided free in TX to veterans), and a paid in full bill from the funeral home and or cemetery. The VA determines eligibility and the appropriate benefit and issues payment to the purchaser. The funeral home can be of assistance in preparing and filing these documents. Benefits may be applied for up to two years after the date of passing.
VA HEADSTONES AND GRAVE MARKERS
If a veteran is interred in a national or state cemetery, they automatically receive the appropriate memorial. If they are interred in another cemetery, then the VA will provide a headstone or flat grave marker if the veteran's grave is unmarked. If the veteran already has a headstone or marker, then the VA will provide an emblem to attach to the existing marker. The funeral home and cemetery will be able to help you obtain the appropriate marker.
The appropriate branch of service will provide an honor guard for the committal ceremony. Military honors can be arranged for a variety of services regardless of whether the decedent is to be buried in a casket or they were cremated. It is important to note that the military honors team usually consists of two or three uniformed soldiers that will play "Taps" then fold and present the flag to the next of kin. While the family may request the military provide pallbearers and a firing team for a rifle salute, it is generally only granted under certain circumstances, such as a retiree of a certain rank or recipients of certain decorations. Many local veterans groups have organized honor guards to provide rifle teams when the military cannot.
The VA provides a United States Flag for each veteran and is normally obtained by the funeral home. In addition to a flag, the family of an eligible veteran is entitled to receive a Presidential Memorial Certificate. The certificate is provided by the White House and signed by the sitting President. The certificate must be requested at the time, and the funeral home can help with the application.
VA funeral benefits are well deserved and hard-earned by the men and women that so faithfully served our country. While the benefits provided cannot be secured until a veteran's passing, planning ahead is still very important. Therefore, we strongly encourage veterans and their families to visit their funeral home of choice and discover what can and needs to be arranged in advance.
The men and women who have served our nation's military deserve singular honor and tribute. Arrangements include securing honor guards, flags, the ordering of VA markers, if desired, and in some instances, a reimbursement of partial burial expenses. We specialize in arranging military funerals, and have many years of experience arranging burials at national cemeteries including the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, located in Dallas just off Interstate 20 and Mountain Creek Parkway. If burial is in a veteran's cemetery, a grave can also be reserved for a surviving spouse. If you are a veteran, our funeral and family service professionals can help you receive all the benefits to which you are entitled.
At Rest Haven Memorial Park, we have created two special areas, Garden of Valor and Field of Honor, reserved for the interment of our military veterans, and we host a Memorial Day Remembrance Service every year.
The local U.S. Regional Veterans Administration Office is at 1 Veterans Plaza, 701 Clay Ave., Waco, TX, 76799. The phone number is 1-800-827-1000 or visit the U.S. Veterans Administration website for more information.
Why Do More Families Trust Us to Care for their Veteran?
We are known for our compassionate, caring and thoroughly professional staff, and have years of experience in planning military services. Whether your family chooses cremation or burial, we will be proud to take care of all the details involved.
We are Proud to Honor Those Who Served
Without a doubt, our professional staff feels pride when we are able to care for a veteran and their family. It is our way of expressing gratitude for their service to the country.
We are committed to taking care of all the details involved in providing the veteran in your life with deeply meaningful and honoring ceremonies. Rest Haven Funeral Home can:
- Complete applications for all veterans’ benefits, including Military Honors, Presidential Memorial Certificate and veteran memorial marker or headstone
- Confirm and coordinate any existing paid pre-plan funding benefits which may cover any expenses deemed ineligible by the Veterans Administration
- Coordinate necessary documentation provided by family to request honors
- Coordinate with national or state veterans’ cemeteries
You will receive:
- The professional services of Funeral Director and support staff
- Transfer the deceased and professional care
- Cremation services
- Use of our mortuary facilities and staff for a visitation or gathering
- A funeral or memorial ceremony
- Use of automotive equipment
- Online interactive memorial website
- Additional personalization options, including specialized engraving, a moving tribute video
To learn more about how we can serve you, give us a call. We will be honored to speak with you.
Who is Eligible?
In short, the veteran must have been honorably discharged. A more detailed list of those service men and women who may apply for, and receive veterans' burial benefits, with full military honors if they choose would include:
- 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.
If you have any questions about your eligibility, or that of a family member, call us at (972) 771-8641. If you have any questions about your eligibility or that of a family member, contact the staff of one of our locations or send us an email using our contact form.