In the first of this ongoing series we introduce some specific answers to general questions often asked and just as often misunderstood. In Part Two we jumped into one of the "meatiest" of topics, VA Health Care. In Part Three we pulled back a little bit and looked at the overall "other" Federal VA Benefits picture. In part Four we dived back into the "details" as we looked at Counseling & Support. In Part Five we looked at Housing, in Part Six Education, and in Part Seven Employment. Today in Part Eight we look at Burial Benefits.
Burial in a National Cemetery
: Burial benefits include a gravesite in any of the 122 national cemeteries with available space, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a Government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Some veterans may also be eligible for Burial Allowances. Burial benefits available for spouses and dependents buried in a national cemetery include burial with the veteran, perpetual care, and the spouse or dependents name, date of birth and death will be inscribed on the veteran's headstone, at no cost to the family. To confirm eligibility for burial benefits, please contact a Veteran's Benefits Counselor at 1-800-827-1000. Telephone: (800) 827-1000 Website: (
). Locate a VA Cemetery Website: (
Burial in a Private Cemetery
: Burial benefits available for veterans buried in a private cemetery include a Government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Some veterans may also be eligible for Burial Allowances. There are no benefits available to spouses and dependents buried in a private cemetery.
Burial and Plot-Interment Allowances
: VA burial allowances are partial reimbursements of an eligible veteran's burial and funeral costs. When the cause of death is not service-related, the reimbursements are generally described as two payments: (1) a burial and funeral expense allowance, and (2) a plot interment allowance. Service-Related Death -- VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for deaths on or after September 11, 2001. VA will pay up to $1,500 for deaths prior to September 10, 2001. If the veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, some or all of the cost of transporting the deceased may be reimbursed. Nonservice-Related Death -- VA will pay up to $300 toward burial and funeral expenses, and a $300 plot-interment allowance for deaths on or after December 1, 2001. The plot-interment allowance is $150 for deaths prior to December 1, 2001. If the death happened while the veteran was in a VA hospital or under VA contracted nursing home care, some or all of the costs for transporting the deceased's remains may be reimbursed.
Military Funeral Honors
: The Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for providing military funeral honors. "Honoring Those Who Served" is the title of the DOD program for providing dignified military funeral honors to veterans who have defended our nation. Upon the family's request, Public Law 106-65 requires that every eligible veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, to include folding and presenting the United States burial flag and the playing of Taps. The DOD program calls for funeral home directors to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veterans' family. However, the VA National Cemetery Administration cemetery staff can also assist with arranging military funeral honors at VA national cemeteries. Veterans organizations may assist in providing military funeral honors. Questions or comments concerning the DOD military funeral honors program may be sent to the address listed below. The military funeral honors Web site is located at (
). To arrange military funeral honors, contact your local funeral home.
This Week's Not Commented on Topic - Failing Our Veterans
COL. DAVID HUNT: AMERICA HAS FAILED OUR VETERANS -- Fox News Commentator: For my disconnected, disinterested uncaring friends, it's not about the damn money, we have the damn money, it's us, we suck, we do not care, and we are all collectively allowing out government to perpetuate this crime, the crime of not taking care of soldiers. This year we were shown how poorly our wounded soldiers were being treated once they had their limbs replaced. While we celebrated this year's Veterans Day, the broken promises were still being made to our returning veterans. Our men and women still have to wait months for appointments, years for payments, wade through miles and miles of useless paperwork to get the treatment that they have earned. Hell, this nation owes them. Here is the deal we have made: You soldier, go and get blown up, leave your family, suffer numbing emotional damage, have your body blown apart, and we, the United States of America, will take care of you for the rest of your life. The soldier always does his part and this nation always lets them down. We are now learning that the suicide rates of returning combat vets are four times higher than we thought. We also were treated to this fact that there are over 160,000 homeless veterans in this country. I do a lot of volunteer work at a homeless shelter and have worked to establish veterans' homeless shelters in Boston. I can say with a sadness that cuts very deep that we are now seeing returning veterans from this current war living on the streets of Boston and L.A. That ought to be enough to unseat a government. We need a revolution of care and competence, we need a political action committee, and we need something powerful outside the government to make this government keep its sacred promise to our soldiers. I am telling you -- we have lost our way. I am hoping it's not too late. This war with terrorists will not stop with Iraq and Afghanistan, so we all need to understand that we will need these great soldiers for as long as we want to be a free nation. Maybe that is enough to wake up? Colonel David Hunt has over 29 years of military experience including extensive operational experience in Special Operations, Counter Terrorism and Intelligence Operations. Most recently, Colonel Hunt served as Tactical Advisor in Bosnia where he facilitated all national intelligence matters for the Commander in Chief. Prior to this, he served as counter terrorism coordinator to the Summer Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea. In this capacity, Colonel Hunt planned, choreographed and implemented the first United States national response for an Olympic event in Korea in conjunction with Korean National Intelligence and the Korean Crisis Response Agency. He has served as a security advisor for the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as state and local police officials. A graduate of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, Colonel Hunt holds a Master's degree in English from Norwich University.
--- Regards, Walt Schmidt