American veterans and their families are eligible for free services from the government that the funeral home can help obtain.
In addition to burial in any of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) 128 national cemeteries with available space, the VA provides opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a Government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Veterans who are buried in a private cemetery receive the same benefits, minus those related to interment and gravesite maintenance. Copies of the veteran’s honorable discharge papers are required to obtain these services.
Those eligible for military funeral honors are active, reserve or former military members who departed the service under conditions other than dishonorable. The Department of Defense is responsible for providing military funeral honors, coordinating with funeral home personnel.
The ceremony includes a detail of two or more uniformed military persons, folding and presenting the burial flag to the family, and the playing of “Taps.” Unfortunately, due to a shortage of buglers, “Taps” may be presented by electronic recording. Additional honors such as a graveside gun salute may be provided for high-ranking officers.
While spouses can be buried with a veteran in a national cemetery, bear in mind that due to space limitations, the bodies may be stacked within one gravesite. If that’s not how you want your remains to spend eternity, consider other options.