Veterans' Corner: Veterans should be familiar with their burial benefits

Frank Torres, officer for Victoria Disabled American Veteran's Chapter 169.

The Disabled American Veterans provide all disabled veterans and their dependents the best service and most professional claims representation available from any source.

Keeping this in mind, it is imperative for us to reach out to those who need our assistance.

The Veterans' Corner column is a partnership between the Victoria Advocate and the Disabled American Veteran's Chapter 169 of Victoria to keep our veterans of all wars and their dependents informed of newsworthy information.

10 facts about burial benefits

1. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits do not cover all of the funeral or cremation arrangements of honorably discharged veterans.

There is a common belief that the VA pays for all funeral and cremation arrangements.

However, there are certain monetary, recognition and service benefits that may be available.

2. You will need documentation to verify military service.

A "Report of Separation from the Armed Forces of the United States" DD-214 or an equivalent is required.

3. A veteran's family must request a United States flag.

A flag is provided at no cost to drape the casket or accompany the urn of the deceased veteran.

Upon request from the family, an "Application for the United States Flag for Burial Purposes" (VA form 21-2008) must be submitted along with the copy of the veteran's discharge papers. Flags can also be obtained from the VA regional office or most U.S. post offices.

4. Military funeral honors ceremonies must be scheduled in advance.

Upon the family's request, the law requires that every eligible veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, which includes the folding and the presentation of the United States flag and the playing of taps.

The Department of Defense calls for the funeral director to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veteran's family.

5. Veterans' caskets are not free.

As a standard policy, neither the VA nor the various branches of service provides a free casket for a deceased veteran, unless death occurs while on active duty.

6. A "Presidential Memorial Certificate" must be requested.

It is an engraved paper certificate, signed by the current president to honor the memory of the honorably discharged, deceased veteran. More than one certificate may be requested for the eligible recipients and loved ones of the deceased veteran. Application form can be obtained at most funeral homes or at your area VA office.

7. If you choose not to be buried in a VA national cemetery, monetary burial benefits are limited.

A veteran buried in a private cemetery is eligible for partial reimbursement for burial costs.

For deaths that are not service-related, a burial expense allowance (up to $300) and a plot allowance (up to $300) may be given.

If death is service related, up to $2,000 may be paid for burial expenses.

VA form 21-530 must be submitted for burial benefit reimbursements.

There are other special considerations for burial benefits.

8. There are eligibility requirements for burial in a VA national cemetery.

It is suggested that families check with funeral homes and area or regional VA offices for the latest requirements and information.

9. Headstones or markers for a funeral space in a private cemetery must be requested.

Any deceased veteran discharged under conditions other than dishonorable is eligible for a standard government headstone or marker. The VA, upon request and at no charge to the applicant, will furnish a government headstone or marker for the grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world.

Check with funeral homes and area or regional VA for styles that are consistent with existing monuments and markers in the place of burial. Submit VA form 40-1330 for headstone or marker.

10. Issuance or replacement of military service medals, awards and decorations must be requested in writing.

Family members of deceased veterans may request medals and awards.

Application forms can be obtained at most funeral homes or at you area VA offices.

Note: Most funeral homes are familiar with the necessary forms and benefits and will help you file for the veteran's burial needs.

For more information, visit the Disabled American Veterans Service Officers Office located at the Texas Workforce Center, corner of Main and Santa Rosa streets in downtown Victoria or call 361-578-0341, ext. 247. The hours of operation are 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday each week.

Frank Torres is an officer for Victoria Disabled American Veteran's Chapter 169 and offers military benefit information and advice for Victoria and surrounding counties. He can be reached at 361-564-7415.