If your family member served in the armed forces, you have the option of providing them with a Military Honors Funeral, or MFH. The basic MFH will provide the family of the deceased veteran with a folded American flag and a playing of Taps, either by a live bugler or through a high-quality recording. This is the standard funeral service provided to deceased veterans across the country, and is performed by at least two members of the armed services – at least one of whom will be from the same branch as the deceased.
Your veteran's status will determine the type of MFH eligibility. There are three different types of honors for deceased veterans: Standard Honors Team Detail, Seven Person Detail, or Full Military Honors. If requested by the family, the Funeral Honors Team members may act as pall bearers for the casket.
Your family member is eligible for MFH if certain criteria are met:
- He or she was on active duty or in Selected Reserve
- He or she was a former member of the military who served on active duty and was not dishonorably discharged
- He or she finished one or more terms of enlistment or periods of initial obligated service in the Selective Reserve and was not dishonorable discharged
- He or she was discharged due to a disability caused or aggravated by active duty in the Selective Reserve
REIMBURSEMENT OF BURIAL COSTS
If the veteran's death is service-related, VA will reimburse up to $2,000 of the cost of burial, in addition to the cost of transporting remains of a service-disabled veteran to the national cemetery nearest the home of the deceased that has available grave sites. The person who handled the transportation can apply for reimbursement directly from VA.
A United States flag will be provided to drape the casket or urn at the service, at no cost to the family, to honor the deceased's service to the country. The VA will provide the memorial flag to former service members who meet one of the following criteria:
- He or she served during a time of war
- He or she died during active duty after May 27, 1941
- He or she served after January 31, 1955
- He or she was a peacetime veteran who was released or discharged prior to June 27, 1950
- Certain veterans of the armed forces who died on or after April 25, 1951 and while in service for the United States also served in the organized military forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines.
The memorial flags will be presented to the next of kin after the ceremony as a keepsake. If there is no next of kin, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will give the flag to a friend of the deceased if requested. Families who wish to donate their flags to a veteran's cemetary's Avenue of Flags may do so; the flag will be flown on patriotic holidays such as Veteran's Day and July 4th. If lost or damaged, a burial flag can not be replaced, though there are some groups who will help the family obtain a new flag in honor of the deceased.
MILITARY HEADSTONES OR MARKERS
If requested, VA will provide the unmarked grave of an eligible veteran a Government headstone or marker, regardless of the date of his or her death. If the veteran died on or after November 1, 1990, a headstone or marker may be provided upon request for graves already marked with a private headstone. The style of the marker must be consistent with the existing surrounding monuments. There are also niche monuments available for columbaria use.
If the family of the deceased would like to note the military service of their loved one but would prefer a private marker of the grave or columbaria, there are medallions available for attaching to the stone. A grave can have either a medallion or a government headstone, but not both. For either option, the family must fill out a VA Form 40-1330, Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker.
NATIONAL CEMETERY INTERRMENT
If the deceased will be buried in a national cemetery, veteran's cemetery, or base or post cemetery, the marker will be ordered by site officials with inscription based on information provided by next of kin or, if no next of kin, and authorized representative. Spouses and descendents of veterans are only provided with government headstones if they are buried in national cemeteries, veteran's cemeteries, or in a base or post cemetery.
ELIGIBILITY FOR NON-MILITARY FUNERAL HONORS
There are certain cases where a person was not an active member of the military, but still can qualify for MFH. If the deceased was a member of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or the Commissioned Officer Corps of the Public Health Service (PHS), they may qualify as well. All families who would like their deceased members to receive MFH need to provide proof of the eligibility. For veterans, this will be the DD Form 214 (discharge papers); however, if this is not available, any document showing a discharge status other than dishonorable may be used. For members of the NOAA or the PHS, the Form 56-16 and PHS Form 1867, respectively. If these papers are not readily available, they can be requested through different channels.
A copy of the DD Form 214 can be requested by filling out a Standard Form 180 and sending it to the NPRC:
National Personnel Records Center (NPRC)
9700 Page Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63132
The form can be downloaded from archives.gov or obtained from the National Records Center.
If the NOAA Form 56-16 is unavailable, the family of the deceased can request it by contacting the Chief, Officer Services Division, NOAA Commissioned Personnel Center. They are available via telephone or mail.
(301) 713-3453, ext 102
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Commissioned Personnel Center
Chief, Officer Services Division (CPC1)
1315 East-West Highway, Room 12100
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910
If the family of the deceased does not have a readily available copy of the PHS Form 1867, Statement of Service, it can be requested from the Privacy Coordinator for Commissioned Corps, available via telephone or mail.
Division of Commissioned Personnel/HRS/PSC
Attention: Privacy Act Coordinator
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, Maryland 20857