Why should you choose veterans’ cremation services instead of burial? There’s a reason cremation is markedly becoming more popular than ground burial. It has always been cheaper and more environmentally friendly. But for veterans, the benefits don’t stop there.
The government wants to honor veterans for their services to the nation. One way it does that is by providing burial and cremation benefits to the surviving family members. What are these benefits, and how do you know if you qualify?
Here’s what you need to know:
Cremation Vs. Burial Costs
Funeral directors estimate the cost of cremation to be lower than that of burial by one-third. That’s because you may not need a graveyard, casket, and headstone. Plus, direct cremation doesn’t require the funeral home to preserve the body, which would increase funeral expenses.
Though most people don’t associate cremation with ground burial, you can still hold a funeral service and a burial if you wish. The only difference is that cremation makes it optional.
Who is Eligible for Cremation/Burial Benefits?
Veterans and their families receive cremation or burial benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs. But to be eligible, the veteran affairs (VA) will look at the reason for your discharge. That means your family members must have the DD214 form.
The department of defense issues this form to veterans after the termination of services. It states the reasons for the discharge, which can be:
- Other than honorable
Veterans can access the VA burial benefits—unless the nature of discharge points to a dishonorable cause. Note: If you’re still serving in the military, you won’t have the DD214 form.
So, how will the VA help if a veteran is eligible? Here’s what you can expect:
Government Benefits for Burial and Veterans Cremation Services
Sometimes you may experience delays in obtaining the DD214 form. If that happens, you can decide to reschedule the cremation service or pay the expenses and claim reimbursements later. If you pay the costs, the VA will reimburse it once you provide the required documents. Usually, it doesn’t take more than six months to get the DD214 form.
In addition to the DD214 form, you may have to provide additional documents to the VA to get the benefits. These include:
- A death certificate to provide evidence of death
- A receipt to show that you paid the cremation/burial expenses
- A document disclosing the veteran’s name and the amount charged, and any amount contributed by a third party
On the same note, if you got the services free or an organization helped pay for them, the VA won’t reimburse. Moreover, you must claim the benefits within two years for non-service connected death. But there’s no time limit for filing a claim for a service-connected death.
The burial allowance depends on when, how, and where the death occurred. For a service-related death, the benefits are:
- A maximum of $2,000 if the veteran died on or after September 11, 2001
- A maximum of $1,500 if the veteran died before September 11, 2001
- For burial at the VA cemetery, the benefit includes all or some of the cost of transporting the remains
If the death isn’t service-connected, the benefits are slightly lower. These benefits change with time. If the death occurred on or after October 1, 2021, the burial allowance is $300 and $828 for the plot allowance. However, the burial benefit is $828 and a similar amount for plot allowance if at the time of the death the veteran was hospitalized by the VA.
Cremation Versus Burial Benefits
The VA benefits are available for both cremation and burial. The extent of these benefits will depend on the options you choose. For instance, you won’t have to pay a gravesite fee if you bury a veteran in the national cemeteries.
Also, you won’t incur any cost to care for the graveyard of your loved one in that cemetery. The National Cemetery Administration will take care of everything.
In addition, you can request a headstone from the VA for eligible veterans at no cost. This government-provided headstone is available for any cemetery worldwide, regardless of the date of death. If you decide to go for a different headstone, the government can still provide a burial flag and a memorial medallion for the veteran burial.
You can also request a presidential memorial certificate for eligible veterans. This certificate bears the signature of the President of the United States and is an honorable way to recognize a deceased veteran. However, only veterans eligible for burial in the national cemetery can get this certificate.
On the other hand, if a veteran chooses cremation, some of the benefits available for burial may not be necessary. If you decide to bury the cremated remains, you can still request a memorial medallion to honor your loved one. Other benefits that come with cremation include:
- A reimbursement of funeral expenses up to the maximum allowed
- The presidential memorial certificate
- A guard of honor and flag folding
Florida Family Cremations Veterans Services
Looking for affordable cremation services in Clearwater? Talk to Florida Family Cremations. We offer several packages, including veteran’s services and simple cremation.
For members of the armed forces, we have special veteran services to give our heroes the respect they deserve. Give us a call for further information on our veterans’ cremation services.