OKLAHOMA CITY - There are many VA funeral and burial benefits available to veterans who die a non-service related death, but they are often forgotten.
To be eligible, the only requirement is the at their discharge from the military must have been under conditions other than dishonorable, which will need to be verified. To prove this, you will need a copy of your DD Form 214 "Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty," which you can request online.
Here are some of the underutilized benefits that are available to veterans:
National Cemetery Benefits: If you're eligible and would like to be buried in of the 136 national or 111 grant-funded state and tribal VA cemeteries, the VA provides a host of benefits at no cost to the family. Some of those include a grave site, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual grave site care, a government headstone, a U.S. burial flag and a presidential memorial certificate.
National cemetery burial benefits are also available to spouses and dependents of veterans.
Funeral or cremation arrangements and costs are not taken care of by the VA. They are the responsibility of the veteran's family, but some families are eligible for burial allowances. If you're interested, the VA offers a preneed burial eligibility determination program.
Private Cemetery Benefits: If you're going to be buried in a private cemetery, the benefits include a free government headstone or a medallion that can be affixed to an existing privately purchased headstone, a burial flag and a presidential memorial certificate.
Funeral or cremation arrangements and costs are the responsibility of family, and there are no benefits offered to spouses and dependents.
Military Funeral Honors: This includes an honor guard detail of at least two uniformed military persons, folding and presenting the U.S. burial flag to the veteran's survivors, and playing of Taps by a bugler or electronic recording. The funeral provider will be able to assist you with all VA burial requests.
For a complete rundown of burial and memorial benefits, eligibility details and required forms, visit this site.
Burial Allowances: In addition to burial benefits, some veteran's survivors may also qualify for a $300 burial allowance and $780 for a plot. To find out if you are eligible, click here.
To apply for burial allowances, a family member will need to fill out VA Form 21P-530 "Application for Burial Benefits" They will need to attach a copy of your discharge document, death certificate, funeral and burial bills. They should show that they have been paid in full.