Veterans Death Benefits
This benefit is only payable to surviving spouses of veterans who were already receiving VA compensation or pension benefits at the time of their death. The VA may not know if a veteran has a surviving spouse. If your spouse was a veteran and was receiving VA benefits at the time of death, contact the VA to determine if you are eligible for payment in the month of death.
Get complete information on available benefits and eligibility criteria at benefits.va.gov/benefits.
The Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for providing military funeral honors. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Cemetery Administration cemetery staff assist with military funeral honors at VA national cemeteries.
Since the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act in 2000, every Armed Forces veteran and member on active duty or in the active reserve has the right to be buried with patriotic flourishes provided by a military honor guard.
Upon the family’s request, every eligible veteran will receive a basic military funeral honors ceremony. This ceremony includes members of the military serving as pallbearers, the folding and presentation of the United States burial flag, and the sounding of Taps, at no cost to the family. In certain instances, a rifle volley, or 21-gun salute, is also included in the ceremony.
The DOD program calls for the funeral home provider to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veterans' family.
You will need to provide the funeral director with a copy of your loved one’s military discharge papers, or DD 214/Separation Documents. This document is necessary to establish proof of eligibility for burial benefits. If you do not already have a copy of the discharge papers, you can request them online.
The VA will provide a standard headstone or grave marker at no cost to the family. Read specific information on headstones and markers.
This engraved paper certificate honors the memory of the deceased veteran, and is signed by the current President of the United States. Eligible recipients include the next of kin and loved ones of honorably discharged deceased veterans. More than one certificate may be provided.
For the purpose of receiving burial in a national cemetery, a “veteran” is defined as one of the following:
• Someone who is currently serving, or has served, as a member of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard)
• Members of Reserve Components and Reserve Officers Training Corps
• Commissioned Officers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
• A Commissioned Officer of the Regular or Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service
• World War II Merchant Mariners
• The Philippine Armed Forces
You can apply for a burial flag by completing VA Form 27-2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes. The funeral provider can assist you with obtaining a flag as well. U.S. Post Offices are the primary issuing point for burial flags; call and confirm with the post office in advance. Not all local post offices have burial flags on hand, but they should be able to direct you to the closest issuing post office. Regional VA offices can also help identify local issuing points.
The flag is removed from the casket, folded properly, and given to the next of kin as a keepsake. If next of kin is not available, the flag may be given to a friend or donated upon request.