The Department of Veterans Affairs offers numerous benefits for the families of deceased veterans. Most people think of widow’s pensions or other monthly benefits when they think of VA benefits. However, there are benefits that would be useful to families of deceased veterans or even veterans who are currently planning for their final days. Also, as with most veteran benefits, knowing about a benefit is only half the battle – you must also know the correct form to fill out in order to apply for the benefit. Here are five benefits and the forms to apply for them – available at the Veteran’s Administration website www.va.gov
1. Reimbursement of Expenses for Funeral and Plot – Form 21-530
The executor of a veteran’s estate can apply within two years of the veteran’s death for reimbursement for expenses related to the veteran’s funeral and burial plot. The estate of a veteran who dies because of an injury sustained during active duty can receive up to $2,000. Otherwise, the estate may receive up to $600. This probably won’t pay for the entire funeral, but every little bit helps.
2. Headstone or Marker – Form 40-1330
The family of a deceased veteran can apply for a headstone or marker from the VA. The headstone or marker is free, as is the shipping. The family does have to pay for the installation, though. However, the VA will inscribe endearments, such as “Beloved Husband and Father” on the headstone without cost.
3. American Flag – Form 21-2008
The families of veterans are also entitled to an American flag. The family may display it in a shadowbox or choose to have it laid to rest with the veteran. Either way, the VA will provide it free of charge.
4. Presidential Memorial Certificate – Form 40-0247
The family of a veteran may request a Presidential Memorial Certificate, which is signed by the President and thanks the veteran for his or her service to the nation. It’s a nice reminder of a thankful country.
5. Burial Plot
Not every veteran can be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, but veterans can be buried in other federal veteran cemeteries. There is even one in Dallas. Call (214) 467-3374 for more information. If there is not a federal veteran cemetery nearby, there may be a veteran cemetery operated by the state. More information is available by contacting the Texas Veterans Land Board at (800) 252-VETS.
As with most benefits from the VA, in order to apply for them, the applicant must have a copy of the veteran’s discharge papers and a death certificate. A surviving family member can apply for a replacement copy of the discharge papers online at http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/.