Planning a Funeral: Military Honors

Military Funeral Honors are provided whenever possible. Law mandates the rendering of Military Funeral Honors for an eligible veteran if requested by the family. As provided by law, an honor guard detail for the burial of an eligible veteran includes:

  1. No less than two members of the Armed Forces
  2. One member of the detail shall be a representative of the parent Service of the deceased veteran.
  3. The honor detail will, at a minimum, perform a ceremony that includes the folding and presenting of the American flag to the next of kin and the playing of Taps.
  4. Taps will be played by a bugler, if available, or by electronic recording.
Eligibility

People entitled to Military Funeral Honors include:

  1. Military members on active duty or in the Selected Reserve.
  2. Former military members who served on active duty and departed under conditions other than dishonorable.
  3. 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.
  4. Former military members discharged from the Selected Reserve due to a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.

WHN TIP: Military Honors - Who to Call

Call the local chapter military branch of the service that your loved one served in for details. For more information, visit the Military Funeral Honors web page, sponsored by the Department of Defense.

Markers and Headstones

  1. If the deceased veteran is being buried in a private cemetery, is it possible to have a veteran marker or headstone?
    • On December 27, 2001, President Bush signed Public Law 107-103, the Veterans Education and Benefits Expansion Act of 2001.
    • This law includes a provision that allows the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to furnish an appropriate headstone or marker for the graves of eligible veterans buried in private cemeteries, whose deaths occur on or after September 11, 2001, regardless of whether the grave is already marked with a non-government marker.
    • For more information, visit the Department of Veteran Affairs' Web site.
  2. What are the eligibility criteria for burial in a national cemetery?

    • If the deceased is a veteran, he or she is entitled to a free burial in a national cemetery and a grave marker. This eligibility also extends to some civilians who have provided military-related service and some Public Health Service personnel.
    • Spouses and dependent children also are entitled to a lot and marker when buried in a national cemetery. For more information and to determine eligibility, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs' Web site. To reach the regional Veterans office in your area, call 1-800-827-1000.
    • In addition, many states have established state veterans cemeteries. Eligibility requirements and other details vary. Contact your state for more information.

The information provided here is not meant to be a substitute for professional advice. These tips are from experts and people who have shared their real life advice; always check with appropriate professionals you trust in making your purchasing or life-related decisions.

Updated: 5/2009