We’re very fortunate to have beautiful Sarasota National Cemetery right here in our backyard. And most veterans and their loved ones know that a veteran who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable may be eligible for burial in a Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery, such as the one in Sarasota. But many veterans, their spouses, and their children, don’t know about some of the other burial/cremation benefits that might available:
- For VA purposes, “burial” includes all the legal methods of disposing of a deceased person’s remains, including traditional burial, cremation, burial at sea, medical school donation, and others.
- For an eligible veteran’s burial or interment of cremains at a national cemetery with available space, the VA will pay for opening and closing the grave or niche, a government headstone or marker, perpetual care of the site, a burial flag, and a presidential memorial certificate. (The VA does NOT pay for the preparation of the body, a casket or urn, cremation, or transport to the cemetery).
- If an eligible veteran doesn’t want to be buried at a national cemetery, he or she can still get a headstone or marker to be placed in a private cemetery. Or, the veteran can get a government-furnished bronze medallion which can be affixed to an existing headstone or marker in a private cemetery. (The VA does NOT pay for the cost of placing/setting the headstone or medallion).
- The spouse of an eligible veteran may also be buried at a national cemetery – even if the veteran isn’t buried in a national cemetery.
- The minor child (under age 21, or under 23 and a full-time student) of an eligible veteran can be buried at a national cemetery.
- Certain disabled, unmarried adult children of an eligible veteran can be buried at a national cemetery.
- Certain veterans with service-connected disabilities or a service-related death may qualify for a burial allowance of $300 to $2000 in addition to the burial benefits mentioned above. The allowance is paid to the person who paid for the burial and can produce all the proof showing the veteran qualified for the allowance.
- Veterans can now submit an application to determine their eligibility for these benefits BEFORE they die. Make things easier for your family – do it now.
Of course, these are government programs, so the devil’s in the details. For more information on these benefits, visit the VA’s National Cemetery Administration website. And then talk to the fine folks at our national cemeteries, local funeral homes, or crematoriums for the rest of the story.
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