Veterans are entitled to receive certain honors when they pass. Some of the preparations for the funeral or memorial can be made before death, but most steps cannot be taken until after the veteran has passed. However, if you are a veteran, being familiar with the process to obtain the honors you deserve can help you prepare your family for handling your final affairs.
What Can Be Handled Before Death?
Your family's bereavement coupled with the challenges of planning a memorial or funeral can create a stressful situation. To help ease some of the challenges, you can start preparations now. For instance, you can choose a funeral home so that you can begin planning for the service with the funeral director.
Some of the honors that your family can claim on your behalf have to be processed by the funeral director after your death. You can collect the documentation that the director needs now and provide copies to him or her to avoid a delay in processing. The documents needed include:
- Certified separation notice from the military.
- Social Security and Department of Veterans Affairs claim numbers
- Insurance policy
- Marriage license
The funeral director might require additional documentation. Submit the additional documents as possible.
You can also work with the funeral director to plan your memorial or funeral. If you are being cremated, you need to inform the director of what you want to happen with your ashes. If you are being buried, advise the director of whether you want to be buried locally or at the National Cemetery.
What Happens After Death?
After your death, the funeral director handles a majority of the work required to have your memorial or funeral. The director will file a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs to receive entitlements that will help cover the cost of your casket or urn and to obtain a flag for your family.
The funeral director is responsible for coordinating with the VA to schedule the date and time for the service. As an added precaution, your family can contact the cemetery and ensure that the military honors have been scheduled by the VA. If not, the funeral director can contact the VA and determine why the honors have not been confirmed yet. This can help avoid delays on the scheduled date for your service.
Taking the time to work with the funeral home's director (such as one from Hartsell Funeral Home) now can help your family avoid any complications or delays after your death.