Connect to the information you need in order to make end-of-life choices.
Did you or a family member serve in the U.S. military?
Those who have served honorably in the U.S. armed forces are eligible for burial benefits ranging from a small reimbursement for burial expenses in a private cemetery to free burial in a veterans cemetery.
There are a number of other benefits available as well. A deceased veteran’s family can obtain a grave marker, flag and memorial certificate. These items are all designed to honor the service and sacrifice of those who served in the military.
But how can you get these benefits?
As with all government-provided benefits, there are procedures that must be followed and paperwork that must be completed before any help with disposition can be finalized. Fortunately, there are clear instructions on what is needed. Those who are planning a funeral would be wise to look at the instructions in advance to make sure they have the required information when these benefits are ultimately needed.
One of the most commonly used benefits for those who have served is burial in a veterans cemetery. There is one state-run veterans cemetery in New Jersey, the Brigadier General William C. Doyle Memorial Cemetery in Arneytown, which is managed by the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Burial here is available, at no cost, to eligible veterans who are residents of New Jersey.
The benefits of Arneytown includes a gravesite, grave liner, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, and a government-provided flat bronze marker. Military honors, which include two service members who present the U.S. flag to the veteran’s survivors and the electronic playing of “Taps,” can be arranged by the funeral director.
Another benefit at Arneytown is the ability to pre-register a veteran for burial. This can be accomplished by downloading a form and delivering it by mail or in person to the cemetery.
Eligible veterans also can be buried in national veterans cemeteries, overseen by the U.S. Veterans Administration. There are two national cemeteries in New Jersey, but only one, Finns Point National Cemetery in Salem County, remains open. Finns Point, however, only accepts cremated remains for burial. The Washington Crossing National Cemetery, located on the New Jersey-Pennsylvania border in Newtown, PA, still has space for burials.
Some veterans are eligible for burial or interment at Arlington National Cemetery, but criteria for burial there is in the process of being tightened.
Eligible veterans can receive a government-issued headstone or grave marker for use at a private cemetery. Talk to your funeral director about this option.
A U.S. flag will be made available to any family of an eligible veteran that requests one. Your funeral director can assist you with procuring a flag, but families also can get one through the U.S. Postal Service. Instructions, information about necessary documents and the application form can be obtained here.
The U.S. government will pay a small amount toward burial expenses for eligible veterans. That amount may increase if a veteran died while in the care of a veterans hospital or if an active soldier died in a service-related incident. This page on the Veterans Benefits Administration website details the amounts and circumstances under which burial allowances will be paid.
More information about these benefits and others can be found here on the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association website.
These benefits are part of the “thank you” that a grateful nation gives to those who have served. Familiarize yourself with the benefits now and take whatever steps are needed to obtain paperwork before the service member dies. By doing so, you can ensure that the veterans in your family get all the benefits they deserve.
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