When a beloved Veteran passes, there are a few things family members will want to take care of in terms of using any applicable VA Veteran death benefits. We hope this short list will help you understand what to do and who to inform...
Get a Copy of the DD Form 214 (or NGB-22 for Guard members)
The DD Form 214 is a commonly used "proof of military service," also called a Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. This document comes in handy throughout the process.
The National Personnel Records Center can send you a copy if you fill out a Standard Form 180, Request Pertaining to Military Records and send it to them at National Personnel Records Center, 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, Missouri 63138.
Or the National Cemetery may also be able to assist, at 1-800-535-1117. Lastly, many Veterans agencies like your local VFW may be able to point you in the right direction.
If the member was in the Guard, they should have a NGB-22, Report of Separation and Military Service form instead of a DD Form 214. These are kept at the branch state headquarters, not the National Personnel Records Center.
Let the Department of Defense Know
Always make this one of your first steps because whenever a Veteran passes, the date affects when payments will stop. To avoid any overpayment situation, it is better to be proactive rather than to wait. Also, any survivor benefits can only start when DOD knows about the event. You call them at 1-800-321-1080. Just be sure to have the member's Social Security Number handy.
Let Your Funeral Director Know about the Veteran Status
The director will likely know all about the various burial entitlements and other Veteran death benefits.
How To Get an American Flag for a Deceased Veteran Service
The funeral director can order an American flag, if you'd like to have one for the casket.
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 an other than dishonorably discharged:
1. Veteran who served during wartime
2. Veteran who died on active duty after May 27, 1941
3. Veteran who served after January 31, 1955
4. Peacetime Veteran who was discharged or released before June 27, 1950 after serving at least one enlistment, or for a disability incurred or aggravated in line of duty
5. 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
6. Certain former members of the Selected Reserves
Complete a VA Form 27-2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes to order a flag for a service.
U.S. Post Offices are the primary issuing point for burial flags, but not all local post offices have burial flags on hand, so you might call them ahead of time. Regional VA Offices can also help identify local issuing points.
VA Form 27-2008 provides the correct method for displaying and folding the flag. Note: the burial flag is not suitable for outside display because of its size and fabric.
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 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.
The funeral director can also help if you're interested in burial at one of the National Cemeteries, or you can contact them directed at 1-800-535-1117.
National Cemetery Administration maintains 136 national cemeteries in 40 states (plus Puerto Rico), but there isn't one in every state. There are, however, State Veterans Cemeteries.
If you'd like a free government headstone or marker, ask them to complete a VA Form 40-1330, Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker for you.
Let the Veterans of Foreign Wars Know
If your director isn't involved you can call the local Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Disabled American Vets, or Vietnam Vets of America, or call 1-877-MIL-HONR to find out about obtaining military funeral honors such as a two-or-more person uniformed guard. You can also visit https://mfh.dmdc.osd.mil/mfh/.
Who is Eligible for Military Honors
Service Coordinators for Military Death Benefits
Air Force Military Funeral Honors Coordinator
Air Force Military Funeral Honors
116 Purple Heart Drive
Dover AFB, DE 19902
Army Military Funeral Honors Team
U.S. Army Human Resources Command
The Adjutant General Of the United States Army
Casualty and Mortuary Affairs Operations Center
1600 Spearhead Division Avenue
Fort Knox, KY 40122-5405
Coast Guard Military Casualty Matters Coordinator
202-372-8488/8323 (fax ATTN: Casualty Chief, PSC-PSD-FS)
571-266-2375 (24/7 duty cell)
Online Casualty Resource, MFH & BAS Guidance:
COMMANDER CG PERSONNEL SERVICE CENTER PSC
ATTN: CASUALTY CHIEF, PSC-PSD-FS-CASUALTY
US COAST GUARD STOP 7200
2703 MARTIN LUTHER KING JR AVE SE
WASHINGTON DC 20593-7200
Marine Corps Military Casualty Matters Coordinator
Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps
Attn: MFPC (Funeral Honors)
2008 Elliot Road
Quantico, VA 22134
Navy Commander, Navy Installations Command
Commander, Navy Installations Command
Funeral Honors Program Manager (N00K)
716 Sicard Street, SE, Suite 101
Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5140
Let Veterans Affairs Know
Contact the VA at 1-800-827-1000, or go to their website at www.vba.va.gov/survivors to learn about eligible benefits and discuss if the Veteran used any items on loan from the VA which might need to be returned.
The Veterans Benefits Administration offers a variety of benefits and services to spouses, children, and parents of Servicemembers and Veterans who are deceased or totally and permanently disabled by a service-connected disability.
You may also want to call the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors at 1-800-959-TAPS (8277) for free support and aid.
Let Your Insurance Agent Know
Hopefully you have the details about your insurance policy available in order to contact them to begin their process. Some Veterans use VA insurance policies, but not all have them.
Let the Social Security Office Know
Call the Social Security Office at 1-800-772-1213 (or via TTY 1-800-325-0778).
You can call them between 7 AM and 7 PM Monday through Friday, but note that usually your funeral director will do this for you. Survivors Planner helps look at survivors benefits from two sides:
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