The basic Military Funeral Honors (MFH) ceremony consists of the folding and presentation of the United States flag to the veteran’s family and the playing of Taps. The ceremony is performed by a funeral honors detail consisting of at least two members of the Armed Forces.
The Military Funeral Honors rendered to you or your veteran will be determined by the status of the veteran. The type of Funeral Honors may be Full Military Honors, 7 Person Detail, or a Standard Honors Team Detail.
At least one of the Funeral Honors Detail will be from the Armed Force in which the deceased veteran served. Taps may be played by a bugler or, if a bugler is not available, by using a quality recorded version. Military Funeral Honor Teams may act as Pall Bearers if requested by the veteran/family.
Click on the links below to learn more about eligibility, burial markers and headstones, burial flags, and additional information.
Who is eligible for Military Funeral Honors?
- Veterans discharged from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable and service members who died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, as well as spouses and dependent children of Veterans and active duty service members, may be eligible for VA burial and memorial benefits.
- 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.
- Reservists and National Guard members, as well as their spouses and dependent children, are eligible if they were entitled to retired pay at the time of death, or would have been upon reaching requisite age.
- Burial in a VA National Cemetery is available for eligible veterans, their spouses, and dependents at no cost to the family and includes the gravesite, grave liner, opening and closing of the grave, a headstone or marker, and perpetual care as a part of a National Shrine. For Veterans, benefits also include a burial flag (with a case for active duty) and military funeral honors. Family members and other loved ones of deceased Veterans may request Presidential Memorial Certificates.
Who is not eligible for Military Funeral Honors?
- Any person separated from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions or whose character of service results in a bar to veteran’s benefits.
- Any person who was ordered to report to an induction station, but was not actually inducted into military service.
- Any person discharged from the Selected Reserve prior to completing one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service for reasons other than a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.
- Any person convicted of a Federal or State capital crime sentenced to death or life imprisonment.
- Active duty for training, by itself, while serving in the reserves or National Guard, is not sufficient to confer eligibility.
How do I establish veteran eligibility?
The preferred method is the DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. If the DD Form 214 is not available, any discharge document showing other than dishonorable service can be used. The DD Form 214 may be obtained by filling out a Standard Form 180 and sending it to:
National Personnel Records Center(NPRC)
9700 Page Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63132
The Standard Form 180 may be obtained from the National Records Center or by visiting the archives.gov website.
Is anyone else eligible to receive Military Funeral Honors?
Yes. Members of the Commissioned Officer Corps of the Public Health Service (PHS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as members of a Uniformed Service, are also eligible to receive funeral honors.
For NOAA personnel, eligibility is established using NOAA Form 56-16, Report of Transfer or Discharge. If the family does not have a copy of the NOAA Form 56-16, it may by obtained by contacting the Chief, Officer Services Division, NOAA Commissioned Personnel Center at (301) 713-7715. or by writing:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Commissioned Personnel Center
Chief, Officer Services Division (CPC1)
1315 East-West Highway, Room 12100
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910
For PHS personnel, funeral honors eligibility is established using PHS Form 1867, Statement of Service (equivalent to the DD Form 214). If the family does not have a copy of the Statement of Service, it may be obtained by contacting the Privacy Coordinator for the Commissioned Corps at (240) 453-6041 or writing:
Division of Commissioned Personnel/HRS/PSC
Attention: Privacy Act Coordinator
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, Maryland 20857
Surviving spouses of Veterans who died on or after January 1st, 2000, do not lose eligibility for burial in a national cemetery if they remarry. The burial of dependent children is limited to unmarried children under 21 years of age or under 23 years of age if a full-time student at an approved educational institution. Unmarried adult children who become physically or mentally disabled and incapable of self-support before age 21, or 23 if a full-time student, are also eligible for burial.
Headstones & Markers
Veterans, active duty service members, and retired Reservists, and National Guard service members, are eligible for an inscribed headstone or marker for their grave at any cemetery – national, State Veterans, or private. VA will deliver a headstone or marker at no cost, anywhere in the world. For eligible veterans whose deaths occurred on or after November 1st, 1990, VA may provide a government headstone or marker even if the grave is already marked with a private one.
Spouses and dependent children are eligible for a government headstone or marker only if they are buried in a National or State Veterans cemetery.
Flat markers are available in bronze, granite, or marble. Upright headstones come in granite or marble. In national cemeteries, the style chosen will be consistent with existing monuments at the place of burial. Niche markers are available to mark columbaria used for the inurnment of cremated remains.
Note: There is no charge for the headstone or marker itself; however, arrangements for placing it in a private cemetery are the applicant’s responsibility and all setting fees are at private expense.
“In Memory Of” Markers
VA provides memorial headstones and markers with “In Memory Of” as the first line of inscription, to memorialize those whose remains have not been recovered or identified, were buried at sea, donated to science, or cremated and scattered. Eligibility is the same as for regular headstones and markers. There is no fee when the “in memory of” marker is placed in a national cemetery. All installation fees are the responsibility of the applicant.
Headstones and markers must be inscribed with the name of the deceased, branch of service, and year of birth and death. They also may be inscribed with other optional information, including an authorized emblem of belief and, space permitting, additional text including military rank; war service such as “World War II;” complete dates of birth and death; military awards; military organizations; civilian or Veteran affiliation; and personalized words of endearment.
A United States flag is provided 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. VA will furnish a burial flag for memorialization for a Veteran who served during wartime, a Veteran who died on active duty after May 27, 1941, a Veteran who served after January 31, 1955, a peacetime veteran who was discharged or released before June 27, 1950, certain persons who served in the organized military forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines while in service of the U.S. Armed Forces and who died on or after April 25, 1951, or certain former members of the Selected Reserves.
Who Is Eligible to Receive the Burial Flag?
Generally, the flag is given to the next-of-kin, as a keepsake, after its use during the funeral service. When there is no next-of-kin, VA will furnish the flag to a friend making a request for it. For those VA national cemeteries with an Avenue of Flags, families of veterans buried in these national cemeteries may donate the burial flags of their loved ones to be flown on patriotic holidays.
How Can You Apply?
You may apply for the flag by completing VA Form 27-2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes. You may get a flag at any VA regional office or U.S. Post Office. Generally, the funeral director will help you obtain the flag.
Can a Burial Flag Be Replaced?
The law allows us to issue one flag for a veteran’s funeral. We cannot replace it if it is lost, destroyed, or stolen. However, some veterans’ organizations or other community groups may be able to help you get another flag.
How Should the Burial Flag Be Displayed?
The proper way to display the flag depends upon whether the casket is open or closed. VA Form 27-2008 provides the correct method for displaying and folding the flag. The burial flag is not suitable for outside display because of its size and fabric. It is made of cotton and can easily be damaged by the weather.
Presidential Memorial Certificates
Presidential Memorial Certificates are issued upon request to recognize the United States military service of honorably discharged deceased Veterans. Next of kin, relatives, and other loved ones may apply for a certificate by mailing, emailing, or faxing a completed and signed VA Form 40 – 0247 along with a copy of the Veteran’s military discharge documents or proof of honorable military service. Please be sure to provide a copy of the service member’s DD Form 1300 (Report of Casualty) with each request.
State Veterans Cemeteries
The VA operates 131 National cemeteries, of which 71 are open for new casketed interments and 19 are open to accept only cremated remains. Burial options are limited to those available at a specific cemetery but may include in-ground casket, or interment of cremated remains in a columbarium, in-ground, or in a scatter garden. Contact the national cemetery directly or visit the VA website to determine if a particular cemetery is open for new burials, and what other options are available.
Gravesites in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National cemeteries cannot be reserved in advance. You should advise your family of your wishes and the location of your discharge papers. These papers are very important in establishing your eligibility.
Next Steps for a Veterans Funeral Service
Get in touch with our team to learn more about our Veteran’s services and Military Funeral Honors, and to receive a funeral cost estimate.
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