“Our nation owes a debt to its fallen heroes that we can never fully repay, but we can honor their sacrifice.”
– Barack Obama
The men and women who answered our nation’s call deserve the most prestigious honor and sendoff. And when a veteran or public servant passes, the entire community comes together with family members and loved ones to thank them for their service and grieve together.
Every celebration of life is unique and that is especially true when planning a funeral for a veteran or public servant. Family members, loved ones and those who served alongside them should look for a funeral home that is mindful of the unique aspects that go into planning a service for a hero.
A family should feel at ease knowing every small detail is accounted for during this difficult time and that their loved one receives the correct benefits and honors upon passing. Follow along below as we guide families through the unique steps that go into planning a funeral for a veteran or public servant.
1. Application for All Veteran Benefits
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers a variety of burial benefits for families to choose.
The funeral home of your choice should be trained with an understanding of what needs to be done following the death of a veteran or public servant. A funeral staff member can answer questions on benefits, help you choose cemetery property and other memorialization, give you valuable guidelines for selection of monuments or markers, and make complete service arrangements.
Families of eligible veterans may request any of the following benefits, free of charge:
- Burial and Memorial: A gravesite in any of the 135 national cemeteries maintained by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- A Government Headstone or Marker: The cemetery officials will inscribe the headstone, marker or medallion with information provided by the next of kin.
- A Burial Flag: A U.S. flag is provided to drape the casket or accompany the urn.
- A Presidential Memorial Certificate: An engraved paper certificate signed by the current President to honor the memory of the deceased.
If the family chooses cremation, the remains may be buried or inurned with the same honors and benefits listed above.
Please note that in order to receive these benefits, the family must fill out the VA Form 21P-530. For more information regarding veteran burial and memorial benefits, visit the National Cemetery Administration Webpage.
2. Military Personalization, Honors and Special Music
Military honors are determined by the branch of service based on the rank of the veteran. With the proper documentation, a funeral home can arrange for special military and public service observances.
If requested by the family, military detachments may provide the following services:
- Gun Salute: Members of the honor guard may sound off a gun salute in honor of the deceased veteran.
- Color Guard: A uniformed group who parade and/or present the necessary flags during the ceremony.
- Flag Folding: The honor guard will carefully fold the American flag in preparation for the flag presentation.
- Flag Presentation: After the flag is folded, an honor guard member of the parent service of the deceased veteran will present a flag to the next of kin.
- Pallbearers: Members of the honor guard can serve as pallbearers throughout the service.
- Flyover: A flyover may be present during the ceremony if requested.
- Taps: If an official bugler is available, a member of the U.S. Armed Forces will play taps. If not, the family may request the playing of an electronic recording of taps.
For more information on military funeral honors eligibility, visit: Military.com.
3. Professional Services and Staff
To assist families in planning a public servant or veteran funeral or memorial service, a funeral home will provide you with the support, leadership and guidance to lay your loved one to rest with honor.
The funeral director will offer visitation, gathering and funeral services options to ensure all your requests and wishes are met. Additionally, the staff will work with you to create a personalized and meaningful tribute and manage all of your arrangements, so you can focus on being with family during this difficult time.
Services include, but are not limited to:
- Visitation and funeral service.
- Transfer and preparation of the deceased.
- Local hearse.
- 20 gauge steel casket and sealed concrete vault (Burial).
- Ceremonial casket cultured marble urn and crematory fee (Cremation).
- Memorial book, online obituary, prayer cards, service folders and thank you cards.
- A media liaison to coordinate with the press, photographers and/or elected officials.
Depending on the funeral home, some of the above services and merchandise may be offered free of charge.
>>> For more information on veteran and line-of-duty death benefits and services, view our Honoring Our Heroes brochure.
We believe the men and women who answered our nation’s call are deserving of special attention and consideration. Busch Funeral and Crematory Services has proudly assisted the families of veterans and those in public service for more than 100 years, and have seen the level of responsibility it takes to ensure a memorial of the highest caliber.
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