What to expect at a Military Funeral?
The protocol of a military funeral service includes the traditional honors of a guard and the presentation of our beloved flag. Whether it is a burial or a cremation, there may be a headstone, a memorial medallion, or a military honors certificate provided by the government to honor the veteran we are saying goodbye to.
In either case, the presentation of the flag is fundamental, and we must honor it. It is necessary to remain silent and respectful while the flag is presented and folded. The military present raises arms, and the person in charge of the ceremony may be a military, civilian, or religious representative. A few words of honor are dedicated, and prayers, too, if desired. If there is one, the casket is lifted to the funeral carriage or the grave.
All of these details are planned by the family and the funeral director.
Who can have a Military Funeral?
Eligible veterans can receive military funeral honors free of charge. Their eligibility will be determined by their DD-214 or discharge papers.
The following qualify for military funeral honors:
- Military members on active duty or in the Selected Reserve.
- Former military members who served on active duty and departed under honorable conditions.
- Former military members who completed at least one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service in the Selected Reserve and departed under honorable conditions.
- Former military members discharged from the Selected Reserve due to a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.
Veteran Benefits and Free Burial Space
Along with coordinating veteran funeral services and the military funeral honors that come along with them, we can also help you contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to arrange for:
- A Presidential Memorial Certificate: This certificate expresses our country’s recognition of the veteran's service. The veteran's name is inscribed on the certificate, and it bears the President’s signature.
- Headstones or markers: Veterans and their eligible dependents may qualify for headstones or markers provided by the VA.
- Memorial plots: Sometimes the veteran’s remains are not available for burial. In these cases, the VA can provide a plot and a headstone or marker in a national cemetery. If you want to memorialize the veteran in a different cemetery, the VA will provide the headstone or marker but not the plot.
- Burial in a VA national cemetery: This includes the gravesite, opening and closing of the grave, a grave box, and perpetual care.
- Veteran Burial Benefits: Some families may receive a reimbursement of burial expenses. To see if you qualify, and to learn more about the different levels of potential reimbursement, please review the Guide to VA Burial Allowances.
Certain restrictions apply for the free burial space. Please contact us for more information about this.
What is the dress code when attending a veteran's funeral?
Depending on the wishes of the family and the deceased, the dress code may range from absolute black, as in traditional services. It can also be white, as in a celebration of life. A specific color decision can be allowed, too, as long as the family permits it. However, to be safe, the color to choose is black.
We usually suggest our visitors pay respects through clothing. Presenting ourselves neatly and in clean clothes is a symbol of care as well. It does not have to be anything fancy but appropriate for the occasion: no ripped or dirty clothes, bright colors or flashy patterns, and distracting accessories. It is a moment for the family and the person we are saying goodbye to. We can reserve specific details and colors for other occasions.
Our team is here to assist your family in planning a military funeral. However, we know that fully understanding all the veteran burial benefits and veteran death benefits can be a little overwhelming at first. To help you get started, we have provided the links to some helpful resources below:
- VA Burial Benefits and Memorial Items
- Veterans' Funeral and Burial Benefits
- Military Funeral Honors
- Request Military Service Records
Arrange a Funeral for a Veteran
To learn more about our veteran funeral services, feel free to give us a call. Let’s work together to honor your veteran with the funeral service they deserve.