Veterans honorably discharged from military service in the Armed Forces of the United States and able to provide proof of service (DD214 or similar document)* are entitled to benefits which include:
- Military honors
- Burial plot in a national or state veterans cemetery
- Grave marker – flat granite or bronze
- Presidential Certificate
- Reimbursement of burial expenses
The VA will furnish a U.S. burial flag to memorialize the veteran. The flag can be draped over the casket but is more often folded and placed in the casket during viewing. The folded flag is presented to the next of kin or other designated relative or friend at the conclusion of funeral or memorial services. The flag is usually obtained by the funeral director from a U.S. Post Office, a VA Hospital or a Regional VA office by submitting VA form 27-2008 (Application for Burial Flag) along with a copy of the military discharge papers.
Military Funeral Honors
Upon request from the funeral home, the Department of Defense will provide a military funeral honor guard. The honor guard consists of two military personnel from the deceased’s branch of service who play “Taps”, fold the United States flag and present it to the designated next of kin. The ceremony can take place at a cemetery, crematory, church or funeral home. The funeral home needs to request an honor guard and provide a discharge document at least 48 hours in advance.
Burial In A Veterans Cemetery
Burial in a national or a state veterans cemetery is available for eligible veterans at no cost to the family. This includes the gravesite, grave-liner, opening and closing of the grave and a grave marker. Our closest national veterans cemeteries are Washington Crossings National Cemetery located in Newtown, Pennsylvania (near Trenton, NJ) about 65 miles from Orange and an hour and a half away and Calverton National Cemetery located in Calverton, Long Island (near Riverhead, NY) about 95 miles from Orange and about 2 hours away.
New Jersey veterans as well as their spouses and eligible dependents are entitled to interment in the Brigadier General William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery. The cemetery, which was established in 1986, is located in Arneytown (near Great Adventure) in Burlington County about 63 miles and an hour and a half away. Burial entitlements include the plot, a concrete grave liner, a bronze grave marker on a granite base and use of a chapel for committal services. The veteran must be a legal resident of New Jersey prior to death or have been a legal resident of the state for at least 50 percent of his or her lifetime. Requests for burial are made at the time of death through the funeral director. The request must be accompanied by proof of legal residence in New Jersey and proof the veteran’s honorable military service. Cremated remains may be buried or placed in a niche with an inscribed bronze marker. Additional information can be obtained at www.state.nj.us/military or by calling 609-758-7250.
Grave Marker or Medallion
Eligible veterans are entitled to an inscribed marker for a grave in any private cemetery, national or state veterans cemetery. The VA will deliver a marker at no cost anywhere in the world. These flat twelve inches by twenty-four inch markers are available in granite or bronze. Niche markers are also available for cremated remains. Markers must be inscribed with the name of the deceased, the branch of service and year of birth and death. If space permits optional information such as a religious emblem, military rank, war service, complete dates of birth and death and personal words of endearment can be included. Space can also be left for the name of a spouse or dependent child. In order to obtain a marker for a private cemetery, the funeral home, family or cemetery must mail or fax VA Form 40-1330 (Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker) to Memorial Programs Service(41B),Department of Veterans Affairs,5109 Russell Road, Quantico, VA 22134-3903 along with a copy of military discharge papers. The form must be signed by the grave owner as well as the superintendent or manager of the local cemetery to receive the marker. The fee for the foundation and installation of the marker are the responsibility of the applicant. The fees vary but the average foundation fee for cemeteries in our area is between $350 and $550 which must be paid to the cemetery before the application is sent to the Memorial Programs Service.
Presidential Merit Certificate
The Presidential Memorial Certificate is an engraved parchment document signed by the current President of the United States (President Barack Obama) expressing the nation’s gratitude for the veteran’s service. Certificates can be obtained by faxing a completed and signed form 40-0247 (Application for Presidential Memorial Certificate) along with a copy of the veteran’s military discharge paper and a death certificate to 1-800-455-7143 or by mailing to Presidential Memorial Certificate (41B3), National Cemetery Administration, 5109 Russell Road, Quantico, VA 22134-3903.
Please Note: The funeral home can fill out forms for the above benefits but they must be accompanied by a certificate of honorable discharge (form DD214) or other proof of honorable military service in the armed forces. If the DD214 has been lost or misplaced a copy can sometimes be obtained from the Regional VA Office located at 20 Washington Place in Newark, NJ 07102 or by calling 1-800-827-1000. If the veteran had been hospitalized or received treatment at the VA hospital, the hospital might be able to provide service information. In some cases the needed service information can be obtained immediately, but can sometimes take days or even weeks to obtain. For more information go to www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/
Reimbursement of Burial Expenses
There are monetary allowances towards funeral expenses in special circumstances such as if the veteran’s death occurred in a federal VA hospital, or if the veteran was receiving a VA pension at the time of death. The funeral home will fill out the application for burial benefits and submit it along with a death certificate and a paid funeral bill. If eligibility is confirmed the VA will reimburse certain expenses to the person who paid the funeral bill. More information can be obtained from the Veterans Administration website www.cem.va.gov.