The Military Funeral Honors program includes several key elements that your casualty assistance officer or Military Funeral Honors coordinator can guide you through. In addition, here are some frequently asked questions and answers to navigating the traditional process.
- Military members who died while on active duty.
- Veterans who served in the active military, naval, or air service and were discharged or released from that service by means of an “honorable” or “under honorable conditions” discharge.
- Members or former members of the Selected Reserves and were discharged or released from service by means of an “honorable” or “under honorable conditions” discharge.
- Members of the Commissioned Officers Corps of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
- Certain civilian or contractual groups who have been given active-duty determinations may also be eligible for funeral honors, as they may have been named active-duty designees for the military, Navy or Air Force services.
A minimum of a two-person military service detail who provide the three core elements of the playing of Taps, the folding of the flag, and the flag presentation. Additional elements such as aircraft flyover, color guard and rifles are subject to eligibility, availability and approval
The Veterans Administration verifies eligibility in accordance with Title 38 USC 2301. Your funeral director will assist you in obtaining a flag. More information is available at: https://www.va.gov/burials-memorials/memorial-items/burial-flags/.
The VA authorizes only one flag and the order of precedence is surviving spouse, children according to age, parents (including adoptive, stepparents, and foster parents), brothers or sisters (including brothers or sisters of half-blood), uncles or aunts, nephews or nieces, and others such as cousins or grandparents.
When there is no next-of-kin, the VA will furnish the flag to a friend making a request for it. If there is no living relative or one cannot be located, and no friend requests the flag, it must be returned to the nearest VA facility. The VA is not able to provide replacement burial flags even for lost or damaged flags.
In the case of in-service deaths (active duty), the Defense Department provides a U.S. flag to drape the casket or to be presented at a memorial service. After the service, the flag is given to the next of kin.
Families of eligible veterans may request Military Funeral Honors through their funeral director. The funeral director will contact the appropriate Military Funeral Honors coordinator to arrange for the Military Funeral Honors detail. Families in possession of their veteran loved ones’ cremated remains, who now desire to have a burial ceremony, may contact the appropriate Military Funeral Honors coordinator who will assist in arranging honors. At least 48 hours is recommended to organize a funeral detail. The services will request that a copy of the veteran’s DD Form 214, “Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty,” or other supporting discharge information be provided in order to verify eligibility.
This is a parchment certificate with a calligraphic inscription expressing the nation’s grateful recognition of an honorably discharged, deceased veteran’s service in the Armed Forces. The veteran’s name is inscribed and the certificate bears the signature of the President.
Next of kin, other relatives and friends may request the certificate in person at any VA regional office or by mail or fax. For information about requesting a Presidential Memorial Certificate, please visit http://www.cem.va.gov/pmc.asp.
This ceremony is provided to eligible veteran’s families by the Department of the Defense at no cost to the family.
The VA furnishes a government headstone, marker, or medallion at no charge. Your funeral director or cemetery representative will assist you with ordering. More information is available from the VA or at 800-697-6947.
A partnership comprising the Department of Defense, Veteran’s Service Organizations, or VSO, and other approved organizations play a valuable role in honoring our veterans. VSO and entities in the Authorized Provider Partnership Program, or AP3, are authorized to participate with the military services in providing funeral honors. These entities augment the legislated two-person uniformed member detail by providing additional detail elements for veteran funerals. AP3 focuses on using volunteers who are trained to assist in providing Military Funeral Honors.