When a loved one who served in the armed forces passed away, there isn't actually an obligation to acknowledge this part of their life. Some veterans might consider their service to be a closed chapter of their life, and wouldn't necessarily want their history of service to be recognized at their funeral service. And yet, for some veterans, their military service forms an integral part of their funeral service, and anything else would be unthinkable. What's the most appropriate way to arrange a funeral for a veteran that acknowledges their military service?
A Military Cemetery
Military honors don't always require a burial in a specific military cemetery. Even when a veteran is eligible to be buried in a military cemetery, their family might decide against it, preferring to have their loved one laid to rest at a local cemetery. In any event, one of the first things to be done is to notify the armed forces of the death, and in doing so, you can also enquire about any applicable benefits.
Specific Allowances and Benefits
As the next of kin, you might be eligible for a burial allowance or death benefit, which can be granted when a veteran passes away. It's wise to enquire about your eligibility, as these funds are generally put towards the cost of the funeral. Funeral homes can act on your behalf to assist with the bureaucracy of this process and can also help to determine the precise military honors that are applicable to your loved one.
Even though your loved one won't receive an official 21-gun salute (which is generally reserved for heads of state), some military involvement in the funeral is possible. Your chosen funeral director can contact the National Cemetery Scheduling Office to arrange this involvement, and this is relevant when your loved one will be buried in a veterans cemetery. At this point, it can be decided if you wish for your loved one to be laid to rest with military-specific burial items, such a burial flag or a presidential memorial certificate. Further involvement will depend on your loved one's service history (such as their rank and whether they died in the line of duty). In some instances, the military will send a representative to the service, if wanted.
A veteran's burial should acknowledge their valuable service to their country while also acknowledging the fact that you've lost a beloved family member.