Military Funeral Etiquette

A military funeral is given to veterans, and it's a solemn and memorable way to commemorate the life of those who have served their country. Planning a funeral for a military veteran requires certain knowledge and resources so family members can coordinate with the funeral director for details on the process.

Rank: It doesn't matter what rank the deceased attained in the service or whether he died in combat or not. Every veteran qualifies for a military funeral, whether he is active duty, Reserves, National Guard, retired or a veteran of military service. Any branch of the military is also eligible.

Location: A military funeral can take place at any private cemetery or at a cemetery that is part of the Veterans Affairs (VA) National Cemetery Administration. With 128 national cemeteries and 33 soldier's lots nationwide, it's usually not a problem to begin planning a funeral for one of these locations.

Honors: A military funeral also includes military funeral honors. A burial flag is provided for the casket or urn, and is given to the next of kin after the funeral. The funeral ceremony consists of folding and presenting of the American flag by two uniformed military officers. A bugler will also play Taps at the funeral.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will also supply a headstone for the grave of the deceased at no charge to the family. There are several styles available that conform to each cemetery's headstone requirements. Families will also receive a special certificate from the President of the United States, known as the Presidential Memorial Certificate. This document expresses recognition of the deceased veteran's service to his country. Spouses of military personnel are also entitled to a place in a national cemetery, as well as a headstone.

Benefits: For soldiers who die in active duty, there are funeral benefits that apply to the cost of the services. Families of the veteran can request both a burial allowance and an interment allowance to assist with the cost of the funeral arrangements. For soldiers who die in a non-service related death, partial reimbursements apply.

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