No one likes to think about death, but if a veteran wants to be buried with military rights, or in a national cemetery, pre-planning is a must.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has a website which includes information about national cemeteries, preparing in advance, donating burial flags and burial benefits for veterans buried in a private cemetery.
To insure eligibility of burial in a VA cemetery, discharge papers are required. Family members should be made of aware of where these papers are kept.
The discharge papers are also required for burial benefits in a private cemetery.
The VA has 131 national cemeteries and those eligible for the benefits are entitled to a gravesite at one of the national cemeteries, providing space is available. Opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a government headstone or marker, a burial flag and a Presidential Memorial Certificate are provided at no cost to the family.
Burial benefits are also available for spouses and dependents of the veteran in a national cemetery even if they predecease the veteran, acceding to the website http://www.cem.va.gov (click on Veteran Services, then on burial benefits in the drop-down menu).
Family members need to contact a funeral home to assist with making burial arrangements at a national cemetery.
To schedule a burial, fax documentation to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-866-900-6417 and follow up with a phone call to 1-800-535-1117.
Many VA national cemeteries display an Avenue of Flags on patriotic holidays and during special events. The Avenue of Flags consist of burial flags donated by the families of deceased Veterans and provide a unique visible tribute.
Veterans are entitled to burial benefits when buried in a private cemetery including 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.
For more information on eligibility call 1-800-827-1000.
Arrangements for military burials in private cemeteries can also be arranged by calling the local VFW or American Legion Post.
For the VFW, contact Willis Greenwood at 307-327-5594 or Liz Wood at 307-326-8904. For the American Legion, contact the American Legion Post Home at 307-326-9600.