You’ve bravely served your country. You deserve to be laid to rest with the most profound respect and honor. Cremation is increasing in popularity as an eco-friendly and budget-friendly option. So what burial and cremation benefits do you have as a veteran? Many veterans don’t know that they’re entitled to military burial benefits.

Whether you choose to have your ashes kept in a national cemetery or in the home of your loved ones, there are many ways to customize your cremation to suit your needs. Here, we outline military death benefits and what you may expect to receive as a veteran.

Veterans cremation benefits

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a burial allowance benefit that helps cover the cost of cremation and burial. The benefit comes in the form of reimbursement. After your family has paid for the service, they will need to apply for benefits online or via a paper application sent to their local VA. Then they’ll submit their receipts, and the VA will issue a check. It can take up to six months for the reimbursement to be processed.

The burial allowance varies depending on a number of factors—where, how, and when the veteran passed. If the death is service-related, the burial allowance is up to $2,000. In the case of a non-service-related loss, the reimbursement is up to $300. The burial allowance is increased—up to $749—if the veteran passes away in a VA hospital.

Cremation costs for veterans

The costs for cremation vary depending on your location and the options you choose. While cremation isn’t free for veterans, there is a reimbursement of between $300 and $2,000, depending on the factors described earlier. The burial allowance can be used to pay for cremation services if you wish.

The average traditional burial costs about $11,000—including casket, vault, embalming, gravestone and formal viewing. Cremation costs about one-third less than a traditional burial.

Not only is cremation less expensive, it offers much-needed flexibility to the family during a very difficult time. The memorial service can happen at any time following the cremation, from a few days to months afterward. Your family may need extra time so that out-of-town family and friends can attend to pay their respects. And your loved ones can keep your ashes near in keepsake jewelry or in a decorative urn. Or, they can scatter them in a meaningful place. It’s entirely up to you.

Military funeral honors

As a veteran, if you opt for cremation, you may decide to have your ashes placed in a cemetery. Veterans receive a memorial medallion or grave marker at their niche or cemetery site. You may also be buried in a national memorial cemetery for free if a site is available.

The VA also provides the family with The Presidential Memorial Certificate, a gold-embossed letter bearing the President’s official signature that expresses gratitude for the veteran’s service to the United States. In addition, as a veteran, you may be commemorated by a military committal service, which includes the honor guard. Members of the honor guard may play “Taps” and perform a rifle salute and flag folding ceremony. In the end, your family will be presented with the folded flag—a keepsake that will remind them of your commitment to your country.

Who is eligible for veteran’s benefits?

In order to receive veteran’s burial benefits, the family needs to have already paid for the cremation, burial or funeral expenses. In addition, the veteran must have an honorable discharge. Proof of the veteran’s discharge is found on the DD 214 form, which will need to be submitted by the family. If unable to obtain the DD 214, there are other documents that may be accepted.

The local VA office has representatives that will assist the family so that they are able to gather all of the required documentation. Our experts can also help guide you.

One thing to note is that if there has been reimbursement from any other agency or your employer, your family won’t be able to receive the veteran’s burial allowance. The VA will also not reimburse your family if your funeral services were gifted or donated.

Planning ahead

We want to make sure that your selfless time in service to our country is honored and remembered. The Cremation Society of Virginia is here with you every step of the way. We’ll help you and your family navigate the entire planning process, from start to finish.

By planning your arrangements ahead, you can decide exactly how your memorial service will be. And you’ll save your loved ones the task of making decisions during a difficult time.

We are an affordable alternative to expensive funeral homes. Our professional, compassionate staff is committed to treating your loved ones with dignity and compassion throughout the cremation process. We are always available to serve you for an immediate need or to plan cremation services in advance. Call today or contact us using the form on this page.