What to Do When a Veteran Has Passed Away

Posted in Uncategorized on April 14, 2016
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The passing of a loved one can be an extremely difficult, emotional time. Unfortunately, there are usually many What to Do When a Veteran Has Passed Away; VeteranAid.orgdecisions to be made and actions to be taken by the surviving spouse and/or children, especially if the loved one was a veteran of U.S. military service. While there are numerous benefits, honors, and services to claim in your veteran’s name, it’s helpful to be prepared and organized to ensure his or her service is properly honored.

What to Do When a Veteran Dies

Besides the normal steps you would take with the passing of any loved one – such as choosing your funeral director and contacting your church if you would like to have a pastor offer the eulogy – there are several resources that can help you receive the benefits your loved one earned during his or her service.

One of the most important thing you can do for yourself is to gather the documents you will need throughout the process and keep them organized and handy. Some of these can actually be collected at any point in life to make things easier on yourself or your dependents; just make sure you let someone know where they are in case of an emergency. It can be particularly challenging to find needed documents or information during a sad or difficult time after a loved one’s passing, so by being prepared, you can lessen the stress on yourself or family members.

The list of common documents you or your funeral director will need to access veteran benefits include:

  • A certified copy of the deceased Veterans service record, discharge, separation notice or DD-214
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Claim Number if there is one
  • Social Security numbers of the deceased Veteran, spouse, and dependent children
  • Insurance policies, if any
  • Certified copies of marriage license, birth certificates of children and, if any, prior marriages existed, the information regarding when, where, and how dissolved (death or divorce)
  • Certified copy of death certificate of Veteran

You funeral director should be able to do most of the leg work when beginning the process of a veteran burial, including activating the benefits to help pay for expenses. Probably the most iconic images of a veteran’s funeral is the flag-draped casket and Taps being played on a trumpet. Arranging this is actually easier than you would think, as the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and numerous volunteer organizations work to ensure that every veteran receives these honors at their burial.  Your funeral director will be able to apply for any burial entitlements from the Department of Veterans Affairs toward burial expenses, the allowance from Social Security, and also for the flag to drape the casket.

The VA has a toll free number you can call to learn more about benefits or get help – (800) 827-1000 – or you can visit www.vba.va.gov/survivors. Many benefits actually extend to the spouse and dependent children, or can help with expenses related to the burial, so it’s a good idea to contact the VA and see what you are eligible for. It’s important to note that in some cases, the date of application for benefits may determine which benefits can be received, so it is important to submit your application as promptly as possible.

Here are some additional important reminders and helpful tips:

  • If the burial is at a military cemetery, you can request a “Military Funeral and Honor Guard” from the National Cemetery or local VFW, DAV, VVA or American Legion group. This will help provide at least two uniformed representatives of your veteran’s branch of service to attend the funeral, play Taps, and assist as pallbearers if needed. You local military recruiter may be helpful in finding you volunteers to serve as well.
  • If you have been using VA-issued prosthetic equipment like a wheelchair, medical bed, or hearing aids, you can arrange to have them picked up from your home by calling the VA hospital’s Prosthetic Department.
  • If the Veteran had G.I. Insurance, you may contact your County Veterans Service Officer for assistance in completing the forms.
  • If the veteran is receiving the Aid and Attendance pension benefit, you can pre-pay the funeral expenses using the benefit.

Honoring your veteran will hopefully be a step in the healing process as the gratitude of the nation he or she served becomes a visible symbol during the funeral. With these steps, we hope you are able to spend less time worrying and more time remembering your loved one and the life he or she led.

Written by Megan Hammons


14 Responses to “What to Do When a Veteran Has Passed Away”

  1. Wayne lord says:

    Hello I am trying to get information on benefits regarding my brothers death who was a protected veteran

  2. Michele says:

    My father was receiving a VA Aid & Attendance benefit at the time of his death on March 17. My mother predeceased him by 4 months so there is no survivor to receive his benefits. Is he entitled to his March payment since he died mid-month? It only seems logical since there there are still housing and medical expenses to pay after death, but a representative at the VA said no, and I can't find anything on the VA website that speaks to this. Thanks for your help and info.

    • Kaylin says:

      Hello Michele,

      Unfortunately I think the VA is right on that one in that since your father passed away mid-month then he does not receive the A&A benefit for that month.

  3. Corina Aragon says:

    My father served on WWll and passed away in January of 2011. My mother passed away four months after my dad. Was my mother entitled to my dads pension from the VA because the VA immediately stopped pension as soon as my dad passed

  4. Mary Raney says:

    Yes I am Mary my gusbend just passed how do I find out if he can be berried.by the va at a resting place with all the many worriers .dose va Handel all of this who do I contact to talk to about how to get him home and be honerd with all and like all his brothers in arms

  5. Adrian Scriven says:

    My best friend was a vet . I don't know if he has any family that is living. He hadn't contacted them since the 70's. I am young and have never dealt with this all the while mourning the loss of my very best friend. I don't know who he put down as an emergency contact. But I know he will get the proper service he so deserves. Anything you can advice is much appreciated.

  6. Helen Scholl says:

    what happens to the VA home loan after my husband passed way

  7. Edith says:

    What is the proper procedure for a military uniform after a veteran has passed? I have my fathers army uniforms and don’t know what I should do with them.

  8. Debi Jenderseck says:

    My husband was a veteran and he has already passed away and buried in a veteran cemetery I intend to be buried with him when my time comes can I take his burial flag that was draped on his casket and have it placed in my casket with me when I die

  9. Renee says:

    My dad is a 88 year old veteran, and is uninsurable due to his age, will the va pay for his funeral service when my dad's time comes?

  10. Mary Gillespie says:

    In order to apply for benefits as a surviving spouse of Veteran I read you would need to be low income. My income is $1021.00 per month Social Security. Would I be qualified to apply for pension, My husband served in the Korean war and received disability benefits. He passed away in January 2019

  11. The IRS is garnishing my regular social security ...reducing from $804.00 to $750.00, and the FSA in Indiana is also sending info wondering if I am eligible for medicare/medicaid? It is my understanding that medicare pays more if state insurance is not involved; however so much that goes on with our veterans makes me ask ...who is really tending the farm? So many never get benefits for not only the Veteran, but also not much real help for the benefits of the survivors?

    My question is what are the risks for a loan to not only pay off the 30 year old student loan, but complie it for a mortgage/business....since the small town I live in in Indiana doesn't seem to have much help for female veterans nor VBO?? what happens with all the falasies of state systems over matters attended to by courts (appellate) and others over death benefits and the risks taken in VBO's after the veteran dies? Too much legality and not enough love for veterans and their families. Please try to narrow the answers for some of my questions about
    surviors never really receiving any benefits from the passing of a father or a child-like adult being stolen away at the age of 18 and incorporated into appellate courts ...making decisions the mother (civilian veteran) could never afford attornies for to get into all the incorporated benefits of these mentors and Catholic Charities, and other VBO's?
    I see and hear about that may grab up veterans benefits that are due to their families?

  12. Stacy Dewberry Kinder says:

    If you just found out that the veteran that died was in the Army and don’t have any other information regarding that how do we get that information? All we know is that he was in the Army and was in Desert Storm and was honorably discharged.

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