Upon request, DOD will provide
military funeral honors consisting of folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of “Taps.” A funeral honors detail consists of two or more uniformed
members of the armed forces, with at least one member from the deceased’s branch of service.
Family members should inform their funeral directors if they want military funeral
honors. DOD maintains a toll-free number (877-MIL-HONR) for use by funeral directors only to request honors. VA can help arrange
honors for burials at VA national cemeteries. Veterans’ service organizations or volunteer groups may help provide honors.
Eligibility for Unclaimed
In the case of veterans
who die without the benefit of someone to carry out their final wishes, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will work
with veterans service groups, funeral industry partners, public administrators, and other concerned individuals to ensure
a dignified burial. The VA refers to veterans who die with insufficient funds to cover burial expenses and no next of kin
to claim their remains as “unclaimed veterans.” In the past, veterans had to be in receipt of benefits, either
compensation or VA pension, in order to qualify for burial benefits, but “unclaimed veterans” do not have to meet
this requirement as of today.
The steps and process for determining eligibility
and arranging for the burial is as follows:
- Contact the National Cemetery Scheduling
Office by calling 1-800-535-1117 to determine if an identified, unclaimed decedent is a veteran and eligible for
burial in a VA national cemetery; this process could take 24-72 business hours or more.
- State or tribal veterans
cemeteries also offer burial options for eligible veterans; to determine eligibility and schedule a burial, click here: www.cem.va.gov/cem/cems/listcem.asp.