Nothing is more tragic than the death of a loved one. While nothing can replace a lost friend or family member, a funeral service, memorial service, or celebration of life can help bring closure for those grieving and offer a chance to remember and honor those who have passed.
At Signature Memorial, we are proud to offer our services to veterans and their families during their time of need. If you need to plan a funeral service for a veteran, or if you are looking to pre-arrange your own service, Signature Memorial is here to ease your burden and help guide you through the entire process.
A funeral service can play an important role in the grieving process after experiencing the loss of a loved one. There are many different ways a service can be performed. Some people may choose a single service or a combination of services. The important thing is choosing an option that is unique to the deceased and truly reflects the life they lived.
- Traditional funeral
- Memorial service
- Celebration of life service
A traditional funeral service is usually held at a funeral home or a religious location, such as a church or temple. Often a traditional funeral is a formal event with traditional programming. Programming may include a eulogy, readings, hymns, or traditional songs. You may choose to have the funeral presided over by the funeral home director or a religious officiant, such as an officiant of the church. Families can decide between having an open casket service or a closed casket. However, an urn can be used in place of a casket if cremation was chosen.
A memorial service can be very similar to a traditional funeral service; the difference being there is no urn or casket present at the service. A memorial service can include traditional programming with readings, hymns, and a eulogy. These services can be performed months or even a year after the passing of a loved one.
Families may also choose to hold a wake in the days leading up to a funeral service or in place of a funeral service. Wakes tend to be a less formal service that can be held in a home or at a funeral home. If a wake is held, the family of the deceased may choose to have the casket or urn present during the wake, or simply have a framed photo of their loved one.
Food is usually served in a wake and music may be played. Friends and families are typically invited to attend a wake within a certain time frame in an “open house” format. This offers a great option to casually enjoy the company of friends and families while sharing cherished memories and consoling one another.
A visitation is typically done in combination with a traditional funeral service. Visitations are often held the day before the funeral service and again immediately before the service is held. This offers a great opportunity for those who may not have been invited to attend the service to pay their respects to the one who has passed on and offer condolences to the family.
Celebration of Life Service
As the name may suggest, a celebration of life service is often a much more celebratory atmosphere compared to a formal funeral or memorial service. These funeral services are unique in their programming, reflecting the spirit and life of the individual being remembered.
However, a celebration of life service can still follow a more traditional program if desired. This type of funeral service can range from being held at a funeral home with special decorations and mementos displayed to being a backyard cookout.
Veterans Honors and Benefits
When it comes to the death of a veteran, they are entitled to certain honors and benefits for their valiant service. Signature Memorial is proud to be able to help coordinate these honors and benefits as they relate to veterans funeral services.
Eligible veterans are entitled to certain honors being observed at their funeral service. These honors can include:
- The folding and presenting of the American flag to the next of kin
- Taps performed by a bugler or recording
- A three-volley rifle salute to represent duty, honor, and country
- The American flag draped over the casket
- A final salute at the gravesite
Veterans funeral honors are performed by an honor guard detail consisting of two or more members of the armed services. At least one member of the honor guard must be from the branch of the military in which the veteran served. This member will present the folded American flag to the next of kin.
Presidential Memorial Certificate
A presidential memorial certificate recognizes the service of a veteran to their nation. This certificate is signed by the President of the United States and is inscribed with the veterans name.
Headstones and Markers
All eligible veterans are entitled to a headstone or marker for their grave provided by the VA. The VA can send headstones and markers for a veteran’s grave anywhere in the world. The VA will also provide headstones and markers to dependents of eligible veterans buried in a national, state, or military cemetery.
The VA will provide a memorial plot along with a headstone or marker to any eligible veterans whose remains are not available for burial. However, the VA will only provide a memorial plot within a national cemetery. If the family of the veteran wants the memorial plot to be placed somewhere other than a national cemetery, the VA will still provide headstones or markers.
Burial in a VA National Cemetery
Veterans are entitled to the benefit of being laid to rest in a VA national cemetery. Burial in a VA national cemetery includes:
- A gravesite
- Opening and closing of the grave
- Grave box
- Perpetual care
Veterans Burial Allowance
The legal spouse or legally designated family member of a veteran may be entitled to financial assistance for funeral and burial expenses. Visit the VA website to learn more about eligibility for a veterans burial allowance.
How Do You Establish Veteran Eligibility?
The preferred method is the DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. If the DD Form 214 is not available, any discharge document showing other than dishonorable service can be used. The DD Form 214 may be obtained by filling out a Standard Form 180 and sending it to:
National Personnel Records Center(NPRC)
9700 Page Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63132
The Standard Form 180 may be obtained from the National Records Center or via the following web site: http://www.archives.gov/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf
Is Anyone Else Eligible to Receive Veterans Funeral Honors?
Yes. Members of the Commissioned Officer Corps of the Public Health Service (PHS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as members of a Uniformed Service, are also eligible to receive funeral honors.
For NOAA personnel, eligibility is established using NOAA Form 56-16, Report of Transfer or Discharge. If the family does not have a copy of the NOAA Form 56-16, it may be obtained by contacting the Chief, Officer Services Division, NOAA Commissioned Personnel Center at (301) 713-7715. or by writing:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Commissioned Personnel Center
Chief, Officer Services Division (CPC1)
1315 East-West Highway, Room 12100
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910
For PHS personnel, funeral honors eligibility is established using PHS Form 1867, Statement of Service (equivalent to the DD Form 214). If the family does not have a copy of the Statement of Service, it may be obtained by contacting the Privacy Coordinator for the Commissioned Corps at (240) 453-6041 or writing:
Division of Commissioned Personnel/HRS/PSC
Attention: Privacy Act Coordinator
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, Maryland 20857
Scheduling a veterans funeral service can be an exhaustive and trying task, especially while you are grieving the loss of your loved one. The professionals at Signature Memorial can ease that burden and help guide you through the process of setting up a veterans funeral service.
If you already have a pre-need decision letter confirming eligibility for a veterans funeral service, Signature Memorial will help you plan the funeral. You can rely on us to contact the National Cemetery Scheduling Office to arrange the burial, allowing you to prepare yourself and your family for the service.
For those who do not have a pre-need decision letter, Signature Memorial can help secure the information needed to attain one. If you or a loved one are in need of veterans funeral services, call Signature Memorial Funeral and Cremation Services at (352) 286-0966.