Veterans Benefits

Veterans Administration Benefits

The Veterans Administration does not provide any payment for funeral services, but does provide the following:

A. V. A. Cash Benefits For Reimbursement of Burial Expenses – $300 is available for an honorably discharged veteran, IF: they were receiving a pension or disability benefits from the VA at the time of death; or the death occurred in a V. A. hospital, or V. A. contracted health care facility.

B. Active Duty or Service Connected Death – $2,000 is available IF: the veteran died during active duty; or an honorably discharged veteran died of a service-connected injury.

C. Burial Plot Allowance – $300 is available for an honorably discharged veteran not interred in a cemetery that is under the jurisdiction of the US government, IF: the veteran was receiving a pension or disability benefits from the V. A. at the time of death; the death occurred in a V. A. hospital, or V. A. contracted health care facility.

D. Transportation Allowance – Transportation allowance will be reimbursed by the V. A. for transportation expenses from the place of death to the funeral home and to the cemetery for a veteran who died in a V. A. hospital, or V. A. contracted health care facility.

E. Military Honors – Generally consists of a rifle salute, taps and a flag folding detail performance by military personnel.

F. U.S. Flag – An honorably discharged veteran is entitled to a U.S. flag provided by the Veterans Administration.

G. Headstone or Marker – In a National Cemetery, a veteran, spouse and dependent children receive a free headstone. For burial in a private cemetery, a simple marker for VETERANS ONLY will be provided.

H. Burial in a National Cemetery – Free grave space is available for a veteran, spouse and dependent children.

I. Burial in a Kentucky State Veterans Cemetery – While not part of the National Cemetery System, the Kentucky State Veterans Cemetery, in the following communities: Kentucky Veterans Cemetery – West, Hopkinsville, Kentucky; Kentucky Veterans Cemetery – Central near Fort Knox (Hardin County); and Williamstown (Grant county), Northeastern Kentucky, provides free burial space for veterans. A spouse and dependent children may also be interred in the cemetery for a fee of $350. Eligibility is consistent with National Cemetery rules. Interment space cannot be reserved in advance. Veterans may pre-apply to confirm eligibility.

At the time of death, we will notify the Veterans Administration. For specific questions concerning eligibility claims and benefits please contact: Veterans Administration by using one of the following numbers:

V. A. Benefits: 1-800-827-1000
Burial Benefits website: www.cem.va.gov/cem/site_map.asp

  • Burial
  • Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA)
  • Death Pension
  • Dependency Indemnity Compensation
  • Direct Deposit
  • Directions to VA Benefits Regional Offices
  • Disability Compensation
  • Disability Pension
  • Education
  • Home Loan Guaranty
  • Life Insurance
  • Medical Care
  • Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment

Education (GI Bill): 1-888-442-4551

Health Care Benefits: 1-877-222-8387

Income Verification and Means Testing: 1-800-929-8387

Life Insurance: 1-800-669-8477

Mammography Help Line: 1-888-492-7844

Special Issues – Gulf War/Agent Orange/Project Shad/Mustard Agents and Lewisite/Ionizing Radiation: 1-800-749-8387

Status of Headstones and Markers: 1-800-697-6947

Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD): 1-800-829-4833

or, by visiting their website, www.va.gov.

Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs

Military Honors

The following information has been furnished by the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs

Funeral Honors

The Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for providing military funeral honors. Upon the family’s request, Public Law 106-65 requires that every eligible veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, to include the folding and presenting the United States burial flag and the playing of Taps. The law defines a military funeral honors detail as consisting of two or more uniformed military persons, with at least one being a member of the veteran’s parent service of the armed forces. The DOD program calls for funeral home directors to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veteran’s family. Veteran’s organizations may assist in providing military funeral honors. When military funeral honors at a veterans’ cemetery are desired, they are arranged prior to the committal service by the funeral home.

Who is eligible for Military Funeral Honors?

– Military members on active duty or in the Selected Reserve.
– Former military members who served on active duty and departed under conditions other than dishonorable.
– Former military members who completed at least one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service in the Selected Reserve and departed under conditions other than dishonorable.
– Former military members discharged from the Selected Reserve due to a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.

Further clarification on eligibility is available in United States Code.

Burial in Veterans Cemeteries

Burial includes a gravesite in any of the National or State Veterans 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. Cremated remains are buried or inurned in veteran cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains. Burial benefits available for spouses and dependents buried in a veteran’s cemetery include burial with the veteran, perpetual care, and the spouse or dependents name and date of birth and death will be inscribed on the veteran’s headstone. While there is no cost for any veteran’s interment, state veterans cemeteries may have a minimal cost for spouses and/or dependents.

Headstones and Markers

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a government headstone or marker for the grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world. Spouses and dependents buried in a private cemetery are not eligible for a government-provided headstone or marker.

Presidential Memorial Certificates

A Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC) is an engraved paper certificate, signed by the current President; to honor the memory of honorably discharged deceased veterans. Eligible recipients include the deceased veteran’s next of kin and loved ones. More than one certificate may be provided. Eligible recipients may apply for a PMC in person at any VA regional office or by U.S. mail. Requests cannot be sent via email. Please be sure to enclose a copy of the veteran’s discharge and death certificate. Please submit copies only, as original documents cannot be returned. For more information, call (202) 565-4964.

Burial Flags

The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) provides a U.S. flag at no cost, to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran who served honorably in the U.S. armed forces. It is furnished to honor the memory of a veteran’s military service to his or her country. You may get a flag at any VA regional office or U.S. Post Office. Generally, the funeral director will help you.

Burial Allowances

Some veterans may be eligible for VA burial allowances, which are partial reimbursements of an eligible veteran’s burial and funeral costs. The reimbursements are generally described as; a burial and funeral expense allowance, and/or a plot interment allowance. Not all veterans are eligible for Burial Allowance.

For more information concerning these or any Veteran or Dependent Benefits, call toll-free: 1-888-724-7683 or visit www.veterans.ky.gov

V.A. Forms

Form 21-2008, Flag for Burial
Form 40-0247, Presidential Memorial Certificate
Form 40-1330, Application for Government Headstone or Marker
SF 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records
U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Burial and Memorial page…

Origin of the 3-volley salute

The 3-volley salute is a salute performed at military and police funerals as part of the drill and ceremony of the Honor Guard.

A rifle party, usually consists of an odd number of firers, usually from 3 to 7 firearms, Usually the firearms are rifles for a military service, but at some police services, shotguns are used. The firing party is positioned such that, when they shoulder their arms for firing, the muzzles are pointed over the casket of the deceased who is being honored. If the service is being performed inside a church, chapel or funeral home, the firing party fires from outside the building, typically positioned near the front entrance.

On the command of the NCO-in-charge, the firing party fires their weapons in unison, for a total of three volleys. Because unbulleted blanks (which will not cycle the action of a semi automatic rifle) are used, in the United States, M1 or M14 rifles are preferred over the current issue M16 rifle, because the charging handles of the M1/M14 are more easily operated in a dignified, ceremonial manner than on the M16.

The three-volley salute is not to be confused with the 21-gun salute (or even lesser gun salutes, such as 19-gun or 17-gun, etc) which use a cannon.

Origin of the 21-gun salute

The use of gun salutes for military occasions is traced to early warriors who demonstrated their peaceful intentions by placing their weapons in a position that rendered them ineffective. Apparently this custom was universal, with the specific act varying with time and place, depending on the weapons being used. A North African tribe, for example, trailed the points of their spears on the ground to indicate that they did not mean to be hostile.

The tradition of rendering a salute by cannon originated in the 14th century as firearms and cannons came into use. Since these early devices contained only one projectile, discharging them once rendered them ineffective. Originally warships fired seven-gun salutes–the number seven probably selected because of its astrological and Biblical significance. Seven planets had been identified and the phases of the moon changed every seven days. The Bible states that God rested on the seventh day after Creation, that every seventh year was sabbatical and that the seven times seventh year ushered in the Jubilee year.

Land batteries, having a greater supply of gunpowder, were able to fire three guns for every shot fired afloat, hence the salute by shore batteries was 21 guns. The multiple of three probably was chosen because of the mystical significance of the number three in many ancient civilizations. Early gunpowder, composed mainly of sodium nitrate, spoiled easily at sea, but could be kept cooler and drier in land magazines. When potassium nitrate improved the quality of gunpowder, ships at sea adopted the salute of 21 guns.

The 21-gun salute became the highest honor a nation rendered. Varying customs among the maritime powers led to confusion in saluting and return of salutes. Great Britain, the world’s preeminent sea power in the 18th and 19th centuries, compelled weaker nations to salute first, and for a time monarchies received more guns than did republics. Eventually, by agreement, the international salute was established at 21 guns, although the United States did not agree on this procedure until August 1875.

The gun salute system of the United States has changed considerably over the years. In 1810, the “national salute” was defined by the War Department as equal to the number of states in the Union–at that time 17. This salute was fired by all U.S. military installations at 1:00 p.m. (later at noon) on Independence Day. The President also received a salute equal to the number of states whenever he visited a military installation.

In 1842, the Presidential salute was formally established at 21 guns. In 1890, regulations designated the “national salute” as 21 guns and redesignated the traditional Independence Day salute, the “Salute to the Union,” equal to the number of states. Fifty guns are also fired on all military installations equipped to do so at the close of the day of the funeral of a President, ex-President, or President-elect.

Today the national salute of 21 guns is fired in honor of a national flag, the sovereign or chief of state of a foreign nation, a member of a reigning royal family, and the President, ex-President and President-elect of the United States. It is also fired at noon of the day of the funeral of a President, ex-President, or President-elect.

Gun salutes are also rendered to other military and civilian leaders of this and other nations. The number of guns is based on their protocol rank. These salutes are always in odd numbers.

Source: www.army.mil/CMH/faq/salute.htm & Headquarters, Military District of Washington, FACT SHEET: GUN SALUTES, May 1969.

Origin of “Taps”

original source: www.arlingtoncemetery.org. Site no longer has this article.

During the Civil War, in July 1862 when the Army of the Potomac was in camp, Brig. Gen. Daniel Butterfield summoned Pvt. Oliver Wilcox Norton, his brigade bugler, to his tent. Butterfield, who disliked the colorless “extinguish lights” call then in use, whistled a new tune and asked the bugler to sound it for him. After repeated trials and changing the time of some notes which were scribbled on the back of an envelope, the call was finally arranged to suit Gen. Butterfield and used for the first time that night. Pvt. Norton, who on several occasions, had sounded numerous new calls composed by his commander, recalled his experience of the origin of “Taps” years later:

“One day in July 1862 when the Army of the Potomac was in camp at Harrison’s Landing on the James River, Virginia, resting and recruiting from its losses in the seven days of battle before Richmond, Gen. Butterfield summoned the writer to his tent, and whistling some new tune, asked the bugler to sound it for him. This was done, not quite to his satisfaction at first, but after repeated trials, changing the time of some of the notes, which were scribbled on the back of an envelope, the call was finally arranged to suit the general.

“He then ordered that it should be substituted in his brigade for the regulation “Taps” (extinguish lights) which was printed in the Tactics and used by the whole army. This was done for the first time that night. The next day buglers from nearby brigades came over to the camp of Butterfield’s brigade to ask the meaning of this new call. They liked it, and copying the music, returned to their camps, but it was not until some time later, when generals of other commands had heard its melodious notes, that orders were issued, or permission given, to substitute it throughout the Army of the Potomac for the time-honored call which came down from West Point.

In the western armies the regulation call was in use until the autumn of 1863. At that time the XI and XII Corps were detached from the Army of the Potomac and sent under command of Gen. Hooker to reinforce the Union Army at Chattanooga, Tenn. Through its use in these corps it became known in the western armies and was adopted by them. From that time, it became and remains to this day the official call for “Taps.” It is printed in the present Tactics and is used throughout the U.S. Army, the National Guard, and all organizations of veteran soldiers.

Gen. Butterfield, in composing this call and directing that it be used for “Taps” in his brigade, could not have foreseen its popularity and the use for another purpose into which it would grow. Today, whenever a man is buried with military honors anywhere in the United States, the ceremony is concluded by firing three volleys of musketry over the grave, and sounding with the trumpet or bugle “Put out the lights. Go to sleep”…There is something singularly beautiful and appropriate in the music of this wonderful call. Its strains are melancholy, yet full of rest and peace. Its echoes linger in the heart long after its tones have ceased to vibrate in the air.”