Military funerals offer a final farewell to service members and veterans as recognition and gratitude for their service and sacrifices. The ceremony includes the traditional honor guard playing taps and presenting a folded American flag to the family and other burial benefits and honors.  

Funeral services for veterans and service members are customizable, but you’ll need to know how to plan a military funeral to receive all available benefits. Learn more about available services and advice to celebrate the life of a veteran or service member in your life.

1. Confirm Eligibility

You need to confirm your loved one’s eligibility for military funeral honors before planning their funeral. You can find a person’s service details with their DD 214 form, which you can request here. This document will confirm if an individual meets the following eligibility requirements:

  • Military service members who died on active duty.
  • Active military, naval, or air force veterans with honorable discharge. 
  • Selected reserve members or former members with honorable discharge. 

Specific civilian groups that received active-duty determinations and members of the Commissioned Officers Corps of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administrations, may also be eligible for certain benefits. 

Some military service members and veterans don’t qualify and will be denied funeral and burial benefits. Individuals with dishonorable discharges, those convicted of a federal or state capital crime, and those who are found guilty of a federal or state capital crime but can’t attend a trial for conviction are all ineligible.


2. Explore Military Burial Options

Next, you’ll need to decide where to bury your loved one if they haven’t already purchased a burial plot. You can cremate or bury your loved one and arrange interment in any civilian cemetery, national Veterans Affairs (VA) cemeteries, or state veteran cemeteries.

Four illustrations represent burial allowances covered by the VA.

VA and state veteran cemetery plots are free for the family, and you can choose to bury the body or cremated remains. Cemetery benefits include:

Veterans buried in a civilian cemetery can still receive a burial flag and government grave marker. The estate and family are responsible for other burial and funeral costs.


3. Apply For A Veteran Funeral Service

After confirming eligibility and your funeral plan, it’s time to apply for military funeral services and burial. 

Your funeral director will help you confirm service plans and apply for military funeral honors. If you lost an active-duty service member, you can also contact your Casualty Assistance Officer for guidance. 

Otherwise, you can apply for burial benefits with the VA. In any case, you’ll need:

  • The Social Security number or VA file number
  • Birth date and location
  • Death date and location
  • Military status
  • The deceased’s DD214
  • The deceased’s death certificate
  • Statement of account from the funeral director or cemetery
  • Documentation of the remains’ transportation costs (if applying for transportation reimbursement)

A military member with a rife is illustrated next to the fact the three rifle volleys represent duty, honor, and sacrifice.


4. Consider Military Funeral Costs

The VA reimburses families for several service costs, including:

  • Allowance for burial and funeral costs 
  • Allowance for a VA plot and burial costs
  • Remains transportation reimbursement to reach the final resting place

Military benefits also include an honor guard service, flag ceremony, and government headstone as requested. These benefits add up and mean a military funeral can cost significantly less than civilian services. 

Here’s an overview of some specific allowances for those who died after October 1, 2019:

BenefitMaximum Rate
Service-connected Burial$2,000
Non-service-connected Burial
(Hospitalized by VA)
Non-service-connected Burial
(Not hospitalized by VA)
Plot Allowance$796
State Cemetery$796


Military Funeral Resources

Explore these resources if you want to learn more about specific military funeral service options, applications, and grief resources:

Burial Resources:

Military Funeral Resources:

Application Resources:

Surviving Family Resources:


What’s Included In A Military Funeral?

Military funeral honors must include a two-person military detail to provide the following services:

Every military funeral will include a flag draped over the casket, which is then folded in a ceremony and presented to the deceased’s next of kin. A bugle performance of “Taps” is also played to honor the dead. 

Illustrated trumpet explains that "taps" was officially mandated for military funerals in 1891.

You can incorporate other military honors depending on the military’s available resources and personnel, including:

  • Rifle volley salute
  • Color guard
  • Pallbearers
  • Military flyover


Get Burial Insurance For Veterans

Planning a military funeral can save on some typical burial costs, including the headstone and burial plot cost. But the VA won’t cover all of your expenses without life insurance, and planning ahead is important. 

Explore burial insurance options to guarantee an honorable celebration of your loved one’s life, sacrifices, and interests without worrying about the funeral costs. 



An infographic explains the meanings for several popular military honors.

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  1. DD 214 form.
  2. request here.
  3. Commissioned Officers Corps of the Public Health Service.
  4. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administrations.
  5. Veterans Affairs (VA) cemeteries.
  6. Presidential Memorial Certificate.
  7. Casualty Assistance Officer.
  8. apply for burial benefits.
  9. Veteran Burial Allowances.
  10. Burials for Unclaimed Veteran Remains.
  11. National Cemetery Finder.
  12. National Cemetery Gravesite Finder.
  13. Headstone and Marker Options.
  14. Military Honor Customs.
  15. Burial Flag Application.
  16. VA Burial Benefits and Services.
  17. Military Funeral Honors Brochure.
  18. Pre-need Eligibility Application.
  19. Burial Benefits Application.
  20. VA Bereavement Counseling.
  21. VA Survivor and Dependent Compensation.
  22. Tragedy Assistance Programs for Survivors (TAPS).
  23. American Widow Project.
  24. Military Families United.
  25. Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC).
  26. Military OneSource.
  27. Military “Taps” performance.
  28. National Flag Foundation .
  29. U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.