Many people have witnessed the military honors given to a deceased veteran, but it isn't clear to everyone just how these honors come about.
And what about benefits for the funeral of the veteran, possibly for the spouse and minor children if there are any? Now, we are not dealing with a member of the military forces who dies on active duty. That situation is handled differently.
So let's look at what is available for those who have served. The most important thing to remember is that to receive any or all benefits a person must qualify - nothing is automatic.
For the veteran, an honorable discharge is the key. Frankly, as long as a person has served on active duty, he or she should qualify for some benefits.
I'm a veteran - a peacetime veteran - and I qualify. A large number of people reading this article probably qualify, but for what exactly?
To begin, a qualified veteran is entitled to a flag and a headstone. No, it is not true that if the family purchases their own headstone that the Veterans' Administration will give an allowance toward that. You either accept the government's headstone, or not.
Next, the qualified veteran is entitled to simple military honors at the cemetery - TAPS and presentation of the flag. That is arranged through the funeral director. Should the veteran belong to a veteran's organization (VFW, AMVETS, Legion, etc.) there may be additional military services.
National Cemeteries are available to all eligible veterans and their spouses. Burials or inurnments can only be arranged at the time of death of the veteran or spouse. National Cemeteries provide the grave, the grave opening and closing, a burial liner and the headstone, completely free of charge for both veteran and spouse.
The same holds true for the placement of cremains in the columbarium. The Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman, Ohio, is the closest and we have been there often. At the National Cemetery, Military honors are provided by volunteer veteran organizations.
Some cemeteries in your area have a Veterans Section. Call the cemetery you might use and find out. Check as to the policy concerning a non-veteran spouse. Find out what is free and what there may be a charge for. All private or city owned cemeteries have their own rules so it's worth a call if you are interested.
As far as financial assistance is concerned, some people still think all veterans qualify for financial aid for the funeral - not true. Yes, years back the rules were different. Almost all veterans' families did receive some allotment for the funeral - but that was then and this is now.
The simple explanation is this. Should a qualified deceased veteran be eligible for benefits, said veteran would need to be receiving disability benefits currently or pass on in a veteran's facility, a veteran's administration hospital or home.
What is made available for the family is $300.00 toward the cost of the funeral and the cost of the burial. That's all. (The flag and the headstone have already been mentioned).
All counties in Ohio have a Veteran's Commission willing and able to help veterans and veteran's families as needed. For indigent veterans, there are funds available toward funeral expenses, but the rules must be followed.
Besides benefits for a deceased veteran, help may be available for the spouse and/or children provide the qualifications are met and eligibility is determined. Regardless of what your dear friend tells you or what benefits he or she has received, all cases are based on individual merit and are not the same. Nothing is automatic.
In closing, may I say this? There is more to what I have presented. We at St. John Funeral Home are fairly well versed on the topic of Veteran's Benefits, but there is more.
Feel free to call us at 440-232-1155 and ask your questions - with no obligation. Funeral directors are a good source for this information. What information we don't have, we can certainly obtain for you.
We live in a safe and free country because of the sacrifices of so many who served and who are serving now. We should honor all veterans and remember those who have made the supreme sacrifice.