Veteran Services

Our family and staff salute you!

Florida Veteran

Cpt. William F. McQueen, tank commander with 8th Armored Division, in Paris during WWII

At Anderson-McQueen Funeral Homes, we believe there is no greater honor for us than to care for the families of those who have served our country.  Our founders, John S. Anderson & William F. McQueen, both proudly served in the United States military during World War II.  Mr. Anderson was a Major in the US Army and Mr. McQueen was a Captain and Tank Commander for General Patton in the European Theatre.  Both of these men had great pride in the United States of America and the many individuals with whom they served in the Armed Forces.  As we continue to build upon the traditions they taught us, we proudly carry on their tradition of serving the families of those who have served us.

We hope you find the information contained here to be helpful in planning a military service for those you love.  This information has been compiled from a variety of sources as well as our 63 years of experience serving veterans and their families throughout the Tampa Bay area.  You will find helpful information on the historical significance of military funeral and their traditions, as well as information on Military Funeral Honors, burial in the National Cemeteries and other veteran benefits available through the VA.  However, if you have any questions, you can always contact one of our funeral planning professionals at 727-822-2059.

Honoring Those Who Served

Military life and ceremonies are steeped in tradition and symbolism, and funerals are no different.  Although the more somber of military events, understanding the symbolism behind the various aspects of a military funeral gives all of us a better understanding and appreciation for our fallen members of the military in our communities.

The rendering of Military Funeral Honors is a way to show the Nation’s deep gratitude to those who, in times of war and peace, have faithfully defended our country and the freedoms we all enjoy as Americans.  This ceremonial paying of respect is the final demonstration our nation can provide to a veteran’s family.  The tradition of providing military funeral honors originated, in its earliest forms, in ancient Greece and Rome.  Our country’s funeral honors of today can be traced back to those ancient ceremonies as well as to historical American experiences.

Funeral Cortege or Funeral Procession

The transfer of the remains – either casketed or cremated – from the place of ceremony to the final resting place is commonly known as a funeral procession or funeral cortege.  With respect to military funerals, there are often certain traditions that may occur at the place of interment.  A funeral hearse is most commonly used to transport the remains from the place of service to the cemetery.  However, upon arrival at the cemetery, depending upon the military honors available and / or the additional services that may be provided by the funeral home, such as a horse drawn hearse, the veteran may be able to receive additional ceremonial options.  During transfer of the remains, the casket is always covered with the American flag and in accordance with the patriotic tradition started during the Napoleonic wars, the stars are placed over the left shoulder of the deceased, which closest to the heart.

When full military honors are provided or for the funeral of a president, such as John F. Kennedy’s funeral, the casket is often carried by a horse drawn caisson.  Unfortunately, not all national cemeteries have the availability of caisson.  For those that do have a caisson, such as Arlington National Cemetery, the horses on the left will have riders while the horses on the right do not have riders, only saddles.  This tradition stems from the days when the horses on the right were typically carrying ammunition. In the case of an Army or Marine Corps officer, with a rank above colonel, the caisson is followed by a rider-less horse and the shine boots are positioned backwards in the stirrups, symbolizing how the fallen will never ride again.

Playing of Taps

Funeral Bugler Florida

Bugler playing Taps

Taps was originally composed by General Daniel Butterfield of the Union Army during the Civil War.  Taps is actually a variation of an earlier bugle call.  Taps was originally composed to signal lights out at the end of the day.  However, this somber tune became a tradition in at military funerals as a way to honor the extinguishing of a life.  Just as the sun sets at the end of the day, the sun also sets on the life of the veteran who has died.

Twenty-One Gun Salute

This is probably the best known symbol associated with a military funeral.  However, many individuals do not know the background behind this tradition.  The tradition of saluting can be traced to the Late Middle Ages practice of placing oneself in an unarmed position and, therefore, in the power of those being honored. This may be noted in the dropping of the point of the sword, presenting arms, discharging cannon and small arms by firing them, lowering sails, manning the yards, removing the headdress or laying on oars.  This military tradition began to honor the dead by showing their military weapons were no longer hostile, thereby honoring the one who has fallen.

Salute by gunfire is an ancient ceremony. For years, the British compelled weaker nations to render the first salute; but in time, international practice compelled “gun for gun” on the principle of equality of nations. In the earliest days, seven guns was the recognized British national salute because seven was the standard number of weapons on a vessel. In that day, gunpowder made from sodium nitrate was easier to keep on dry land than at sea. Thus those early regulations stated that although a ship would fire only seven guns, the forts ashore would fire three shots to each one shot afloat, hence the number 21.  Today, naval fleets typically discharge seven rounds from their large guns or cannons in commemoration of their deceased.

There was much confusion because of the varying customs of maritime states, but finally the British government proposed to the United States a regulation that provided for “salutes to be returned gun for gun”. The British at that time officially considered the international salute to sovereign states to be 21 guns, and the United States adopted the 21 guns and “gun for gun” return on 18 August 1875.

The counterparts to the Navy, our “on land” branches of the military will use seven members of the military honor guard and each will discharge their weapons three times for a total of 21 shots.  However, most individuals mistake

21 Gun Salute

Three Volleys

the firing of guns as the 21-gun salute.  Actually, this discharge of seven rifles with three rounds each by the honor guard is actually known as firing three volleys.  This tradition comes from the traditional battle ceasefires where each side would clear the dead. The firing of three volleys indicated the dead were cleared and properly attended to by their armies.  At the cemetery, it symbolizes that the deceased veteran has been cared for and placed at rest.

The actual 21 gun salute is performed by firing cannons or artillery and is reserved for heads of state, such as the president and vice-president, and high ranking members of the military, such as retired generals.

Folding of the Flag and its Significance

At the conclusion of the service, the flag is carefully removed from the casket and folded by the Military Honor

American Flag

US Military folding American Flag

Guard.  In the case of cremation, the Military Honor Guard will unfold the flag that was on display and then re-fold the flag with precision in the same manner as though it were upon the casket.  If the military honor detail performed the 3 volley ceremony, several shell casing may be tucked into the fold of the flag as a tribute to the deceased veteran, honoring their memory and service.  The shell cases must be placed into the fold while the flag is being folded, as it may not be reopened after the folding is complete.

When properly folding the flag, there should be a total of thirteen folds representing the original thirteen colonies, ending with stars only being displayed.  Each fold of the flag has the following specific references and there are variations of these various references and scripts that may be read during the folding of the flag.  The one below represents one of the popular scripts that can be read when folding a flag.

However, it is important to note that it should not be used in official ceremonies as it is in violation of the Establishment Clause. The Establishment Clause (First Amendment) requires that expression not create the reasonable impression that the government is sponsoring, endorsing, or inhibiting religion generally, or favoring or disfavoring a particular religion.

One Version of a Flag Folding Script:

The flag folding ceremony represents the same religious principles on which our country was originally founded. The portion of the flag denoting honor is the canton of blue containing the stars representing the states our veterans served in uniform. The canton field of blue dresses from left to right and is inverted when draped as a pall on a casket of a veteran who has served our country in uniform.

In the Armed Forces of the United States, at the ceremony of retreat the flag is lowered, folded in a triangle fold and kept under watch throughout the night as a tribute to our nation’s honored dead. The next morning it is brought out and, at the ceremony of reveille, run aloft as a symbol of our belief in the resurrection of the body.

First Fold – is a symbol of life.

Second Fold – is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

Third Fold – is in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a part of himself or herself in defending our country and peace throughout the world.

Fourth Fold – is representative of our weaker nature; as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace, as well as in times of war, for His divine guidance.

Fifth Fold – is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”

Sixth Fold – is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Seventh Fold – is a tribute to our armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

Eighth Fold – is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.

Ninth Fold – is a tribute to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.

Tenth Fold – is a tribute to father, for he too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first born.

Eleventh Fold – in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Twelfth Fold – in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.

When the folding of the flag is complete, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”American Flag

After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it has the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under Gen. George Washington and the sailors and Marines who served under Capt. John Paul Jones and were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the U.S. Armed Forces, preserving for us the rights, privileges and freedoms we enjoy today.

To review other flag folding scripts, visit:
http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/more/folds.htm

To learn how to properly fold an American flag, visit the American Legion website using this link:
http://www.legion.org/flag/folding

What is new about Military Funeral Honors?

Military Funeral Honors have always been provided to our veterans whenever possible.  However, federal law now mandates the rendering of Military Funeral Honors for an eligible veteran if requested by or on behalf of the family.  Under this new law, a military detail known as an “Honor Guard”, will be provided for the burial of an eligible veteran and shall consist of not less than two members of the Armed Forces.  One member of this Honor Guard shall be a representative of the parent Service of the deceased veteran.  The honor guard detail will, at a minimum, perform a ceremony that includes the folding and presenting of the American flag to the next of kin and the playing of Taps.  Taps will be played by a bugler, if available, or by electronic recording.

Traditional grave site military funeral honors include the silent folding and presentation of a U.S. flag, three rifle volleys, if available, and the playing of “Taps.”  At the conclusion of the flag folding, the flag will be presented to the next-of-kin by a member of the branch of service in which the deceased served.  The flag is presented on behalf of the president of the United States and a grateful nation for the honorable service of the deceased.

How much does a Military Funeral Honors detail cost?

There is no cost to the family or funeral home for Military Funeral Honors.  All such honors are provided free of charge by the Department of Defense.

What can the family of an eligible veteran expect to receive?

The core elements for the funeral honors ceremony, which will be conducted upon request, are:

  • Folding of the American Flag
  • Presentation of the American Flag to the Next of Kin
  • Playing of Taps

The veteran’s parent Service representative will present the flag.

Additional elements for the funeral honors ceremony that may be provided but cannot be guaranteed are:

  • Presentation of Color by the Color Guard
  • Military Personnel to serve as Pallbearers
  • Honor Guard firing 3 volleys (often inaccurately referred to as the 21 Gun Salute)
  • Military Funeral Caisson, where available
  • Military Chaplain, when available

Who is eligible to receive Military Funeral Honors?

  • Military members on active duty
  • Military retirees
  • Members and former members of the Selected Reserve
  • Eligible U.S. veterans of any war
  • Other U.S. veterans who served at least one term of enlistment and separated under conditions other than dishonorable.

Who is not eligible to receive Military Funeral Honors?

Some veterans are not eligible for funeral honors.  Those not eligible would include, for example, those discharged from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions or individuals sentenced to death or life imprisonment without parole for a federal or state capital offense.  For additional clarification on eligibility for military funeral honors, visit:

http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/130015p.pdf

How do I request Military Funeral Honors?

Anderson-McQueen Funeral Homes, as well as many full-service funeral homes, will request such honors on your behalf.  Therefore, simply let our funeral professionals know that you would like military honors for your loved one and we will gladly confirm such honors.  If you, your family, or a close friend is working with a funeral home locally that does not assist families with obtaining such honors for your loved one, please call us and we will gladly assist you in obtaining these well-deserved honors for your veteran.  We will need a copy of the veterans discharge papers (DD-214) to secure military honors.  If you are unable to provide the DD-214, please provide us with as much military information and documentation as possible.  We will work diligently with the Department of Defense to obtain the appropriate information to secure Military Funeral Honors.

How do I obtain an American Flag for use in the service?

Anderson-McQueen Funeral Homes will obtain the American flag for all veterans we serve for use in your loved one’s funeral service.  If you are not having a service for your loved one, your veteran is still entitled to the American flag and we will gladly obtain one for you.  In the event you are using another funeral home that does not assist with obtaining the American flag, please call us and we will gladly assist you in obtaining one for your deceased veteran.  If you are located outside of our service area, the American flag can typically be obtained by completing the appropriate flag application form and delivering it to the main US Post office in your area.

If you are choosing burial, you have a couple of options for proper placement of the flag on the veteran’s casket.  Your options include:

  • Drape the foot end of the casket with the American flag for open casket funerals and visitations.
  • Drape the entire casket with the American flag for closed casket funerals and visitation as well as during transport from the funeral home to the final place of burial or entombment.
  • Fold the American flag in the shape of the triangle and place the flag in the corner of the lid of the casket or on a special flag stand that we maintain at the funeral home. During transport, the folded flag will be placed on top of the casket.

If you are choosing cremation, you also have a couple of options with regards to the flag placement:

  • If you are having a funeral service or visitation with the veteran’s body present prior to cremation, we can place the American flag on or inside the casket as outlined above with regards to burial. Following the funeral service, depending on the final disposition of the cremated remains, some families request that we keep the flag on the casket when transporting the veteran to the crematory and then fold the flag and return it with the urn.  Other families request that our staff, or the military funeral detail, fold the flag following the chapel service and present it to the next-of-kin for safe-keeping.
  • If you are having a Celebration of Life memorial service without the casketed remains, we can place the folded flag on the memorial altar next to the urn, photo, or floral arrangement.
  • If you are electing to inter the cremated remains in either a national cemetery or in a private cemetery, we can display the flag at the cemetery prior to placement of the urn in the ground or niche. If you will be having military honors at the gravesite, the military funeral honors detail will unfold and re-fold the American flag prior to presentation to the next-of-kin.

Please note that all military funeral honors are based on the final interment site location, not the funeral service location, if they are different.  If there is no final disposition site, then funeral honors may be rendered at the funeral/memorial service location.  We have performed many such Military Funeral Honors at our funeral home, church, cemetery or other location.  Ask your funeral professional for guidance in regards to Funeral Military Honors and proper locations.

How much notice is required to be provided for Military Honors requests?

The various branches of service (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard) request at least forty-eight (48) hours in order to organize the funeral honors detail.  In most cases, we cannot begin the request for honors without appropriate military eligibility documents, such as the veteran’s discharge papers (DD-214).  Please discuss any special requests or concerns with one of our funeral planning professionals who will gladly assist you in notifying the appropriate Military Funeral Honors detail.

How can I learn more about Military Funeral Honors?

The Department of Defense has provided an Internet website which is available for the general public at:
https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/mfh/

This website is a source of detailed information with direct links to related military and veteran sites.

Interment in National Cemetery

All active duty military personnel and eligible veterans are entitled to a burial in a National Cemetery.  Burial can be either casketed remains or cremated remains.  With cremation, the inurnment can either be ground burial or niche placement.  In addition to the active duty personnel and eligible veteran, the spouse or dependent child (who dependent at time of the child’s death) may be buried in the National Cemetery along with the veteran.


The use of the National Cemetery system is a tremendous financial benefit to our veterans and their families.  Basically, everything is provided free to the veteran, their spouse, and/or dependent child from the time we enter the cemetery gates.  In other words, for a traditional casketed burial for a veteran and spouse, the cemetery will provide the following items free of charge:

  • Cemetery Space for Veteran, Veteran’s Spouse, Dependent Child(ren)
  • Opening and Closing of the Grave Space for each eligible individual listed above
  • Concrete Grave Liner
  • Cemetery Marker or Monument for each eligible interment

If you were to purchase these items, at today’s prices in a private cemetery, you or your family would easily pay in excess of $10,000 for two spaces, two opening and closing charges, two grave liners and two monuments or markers.  This can make a tremendous financial impact on a family, especially if the veteran and spouse had not prearranged and prepaid their funeral expenses, leaving them unprepared and overwhelmed on the worst day of their lives.

In the case of cremation, the National Cemetery will provide to the veteran and their eligible dependents the following items free of charge:

  • Cremation Ground Space or Cremation Niche
  • Opening & Closing for either Ground Space or Niche
  • Cemetery Marker or Monument for Ground Space or Engraving of Niche

This too can represent a significant savings to a veteran and their spouse or family.  At current rates today, this would save a veteran and spouse on average $4,000 – $6,000 in burial expenses.

It is important to note that many veterans and their families have been misled into believing that the Veterans Administration pays for everything.  This is simply not true.  Although the VA provides those items listed previously for all eligible veterans, spouses and dependent children, the VA does not provide for funeral and cremation expenses.  Therefore, any services rendered or merchandise provided prior to entering the gates of the cemetery would be the sole responsibility of the veteran, their spouse or their loved ones.  This would include the following types of services, merchandise, and cash advances (other expenses paid to third party participants on your behalf):

  • Professional Services of Funeral Directors and Staff
  • Embalming or Refrigeration Services
  • Other Preparation Services as may be required
  • Visitation / Viewing at Funeral Home, if desired
  • Funeral / Memorial Service at Funeral Home, Church or Other Location
  • Transfer from Place of Death to Funeral Home/Crematory
  • Hearse to Cemetery (for casketed burials)
  • Limousine for Family, if desired
  • Courier Vehicle and Flower Transport, if needed
  • Casket for Burial
  • Cremation Casket or Cremation Container
  • Urn for Cremated Remains
  • Memorial Package (Register Book, Memorial Folders, Thank You Cards, DVD Video), if selected
  • Floral Arrangement, if selected
  • Honoraria to Clergy / Celebrant
  • Honoraria to Organist / Soloist
  • Newspaper Obituary and Notices
  • Certified Death Certificates
  • Governmental Fees such as Medical Examiner Approvals for cremation
  • Other Services, Merchandise or Cash Advances as may be selected by family

By planning in advance, the eligible veteran and spouse can preplan the exact services they desire at a budget that is satisfactory to them and guarantee the cost of these expense in order to avoid inflation over the years ahead.  Most importantly though, by preplanning and prepaying these expenses, the veteran and their spouse will receive peace-of-mind in knowing that everything is taken care of and their children or loved ones will not be left with a financial burden on one of their worst days.

The Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) National Cemetery Administration maintains 131 national cemeteries in 40 states (and Puerto Rico) as well as 33 soldier’s lots and monument sites. Please note that there is not a VA national cemetery in every state.  Many states have established state veterans cemeteries. Eligibility is similar to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemeteries, but may include residency requirements. Even though they may have been established or improved with Government funds through VA’s Veterans Cemetery Grants Program, state veterans cemeteries are run solely by the states. We cannot answer your questions or comments about any of these veterans cemeteries. Please contact the specific cemetery for information.

Florida has nine national cemetery operated by the Department of Veteran Affairs.  Of the nine cemeteries, two are currently closed, one only accepts cremated remains and six are available or will be available for casketed remains and cremated remains.  Below is a listing of all the VA cemeteries in Florida including their contact information and their current burial status.  By clicking on the name of the cemetery, you can link directly to the US Department of Veterans Affairs website for that particular cemetery for more details and photos.

Barrancas National Cemetery 1 Cemetery Road
Pensacola, FL 32508
Phone: 850-453-4108
FAX: 850-453-4635
Open
Bay Pines National Cemetery 10000 Bay Pines Boulevard North
St. Petersburg, FL 33708
Phone: 727-319-6479
FAX: 727-319-6490
Cremation Only
Cape Canaveral National Cemetery 5525 Highway 1
Mims, FL 32754
Phone: 321-383-2638
FAX: 321-383-2642
Closed
Florida National Cemetery 6502 S.W. 102nd Avenue
Bushnell, FL 33513
Phone: 352-793-7740
FAX: 352-793-9560
Open
Jacksonville National Cemetery 4083 Lannie Road
Jacksonville, FL 32218
Phone: 904-766-5222
FAX: 904-766-5980
Open
Sarasota National Cemetery 9810 State Road 72
Sarasota, FL 34241
Phone: 877-861-9840
FAX: 941-922-3457
Open
South Florida National Cemetery 6501 S. State Road 7
Lake Worth, FL 33449
Phone: 561-649-6489
FAX: 561-649-3948
Open
St. Augustine National Cemetery 104 Marine Street
St. Augustine, FL 32084
Phone: 904-766-5222
FAX: 904-766-5980
Closed
Tallahassee National Cemetery 5015 Apalachee Parkway
Tallahassee, FL 32311
Phone: 850-402-8941
FAX: 850-402-4099
Opens October 19, 2015

We are very fortunate in that we have three national cemeteries within close proximity to the Tampa Bay area.  These cemeteries include:  Bay Pines National Cemetery in Bay Pines, FL; Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, FL (approximately 75 miles North on I-75); and Sarasota National Cemetery in Sarasota, FL (approximately 55 miles South on I-75).

There are only a few disadvantages to using the National Cemetery, however, the savings usually outweigh the disadvantages.  We have listed the disadvantages below for your review.

  • You cannot reserve a space in advance of need. The only exception would be reserving a space for the second interment when arranging for the initial interment.
  • Interment Service cannot occur on Weekends as the cemetery is closed for weekend services.
  • Scheduling of Interment times is based on available days and times. In other words, unlike a private cemetery where we tell them when we will arrive, the National Cemetery tells us what day/time is available.
  • Permanent memorialization (i.e. markers and monuments) will be provided by the cemetery but must confirm to their cemetery standards with little personalization available.

Arlington National Cemetery

The most notable of all national cemeteries is Arlington National Cemetery located in Arlington, Virginia.  Arlington National Cemetery is the only national cemetery not operated by the Veterans Administration.  Instead, Arlington National Cemetery is operated by the Department of the Army and has the most stringent eligibility requirements of

Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers - Arlington National Cemetery

Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers Arlington National Cemetery

all U.S. national cemeteries for in-ground burial.  Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for more than 400,000 active duty service members, veterans and their families. Service to country is the common thread that binds all who are remembered and honored at Arlington.

Arlington National Cemetery conducts between 27 and 30 funeral services each week day and between 6 and 8 services on Saturday. The grounds of Arlington National Cemetery honor those who have served our nation by providing a sense of beauty and peace for our guests. The rolling green hills are dotted with trees that are hundreds of years in age and complement the gardens found throughout the 624 acres of the cemetery. This impressive landscape serves as a tribute to the service and sacrifice of every individual laid to rest within the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery.

History of Arlington National Cemetery

One afternoon in May 1861, a young Union Army officer went rushing into the mansion that commanded the hills across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. “You must pack up all you value immediately and send it off in the morning,” Lt. Orton Williams told Mary Custis Lee, wife of Robert E. Lee, who was away mobilizing Virginia’s military forces as the country hurtled toward the bloodiest war in its history.

Robert E Lee Arlington National Cemetery

Former home of Robert E. and Mary Curtis Lee
Arlington National Cemetery

Mary Lee dreaded the thought of abandoning Arlington, the 1,100-acre estate she had inherited from her father, George Washington Parke Custis, upon his death in 1857. Custis, the grandson of Martha Washington, had been adopted by George Washington when Custis’ father died in 1781. Beginning in 1802, as the new nation’s capital took form across the river, Custis started building Arlington, his showplace mansion. Probably modeled after the Temple of Hephaestus in Athens, the columned house floated among the Virginia hills as if it had been there forever, peering down upon the half-finished capital at its feet. When Custis died, Arlington passed to Mary Lee, his only surviving child, who had grown up, married and raised seven children and buried her parents there. In correspondence, her husband referred to the place as “our dear home,” the spot “where my attachments are more strongly placed than at any other place in the world.” If possible, his wife felt an even stronger attachment to the property.

Read more of this article about the history of Arlington National Cemetery by Robert M. Poole with Smithsonian Magazine at:
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/how-arlington-national-cemetery-came-to-be-145147007/?no-ist

Eligibility Requirements for Arlington National Cemetery

To review the eligibility requirements for Arlington National Cemetery, a two minute eligibility video is available at:
http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Funeral-Information/Scheduling-a-Funeral/Establishing-Eligibility

The above link also contains helpful information on potential costs that may be incurred at Arlington National Cemetery as well as information on scheduling a funeral, attending a funeral at Arlington, and what to do after the funeral.  Currently, the average turnaround time for scheduling of most burials at Arlington National Cemetery is approximately 2 – 3 months following the funeral.  Our funeral home will gladly hold your loved ones remains in our possession and care until the interment date arrives at no additional cost to the veteran or the family.  Additionally, our staff will coordinate the transfer of the remains from Tampa International to Arlington National Cemetery.  It will be necessary to engage the services of another funeral home to receive the remains and transport them to the cemetery.  We have several funeral homes in that area that we work with routinely and your funeral planning professional will handle all such details.

Veteran Markers, Headstones and Medallions

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a Government headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible Veteran in any cemetery around the world,

Veteran Headstones

Veteran Headstones

regardless of their date of death.

For eligible veterans that died on or after Nov. 1, 1990 and whose grave is marked with a privately purchased headstone, VA may also furnish a headstone or marker to supplement the graves or a Medallion to be affixed to a privately purchased headstone.

Flat markers in granite, marble, and bronze and upright headstones in granite and marble are available. Bronze niche markers are also available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains. The style chosen must be permitted by the officials in charge of the private cemetery where it will be placed.

When burial or memorialization is in a national cemetery, state Veterans’ cemetery, or military post/base cemetery, a headstone or marker will be ordered by the cemetery officials based on inscription information provided by the next of kin or authorized representative.

Spouses and dependents are not eligible for a Government-furnished headstone or marker unless they are buried in a national cemetery, state Veteran’s cemetery, or military post/base cemetery.

Here is a convenient link to download the VA Marker Application form (VA# 40-1330) to order a veterans memorial.  For assistance in completing the form, please contact one of our funeral professionals.

Note: There is no charge for the headstone or marker itself, however arrangements for placing it in a private cemetery are the applicant’s responsibility and all setting fees are at private expense.

Checking the Status of a VA Marker, Headstone or Medallion

To obtain the status of headstones or markers ordered for national or state cemeteries, please contact the cemetery directly.

To obtain the status of headstones or markers ordered for private cemeteries, please use the following instructions: If more than 30 days have passed since your claim was submitted to the VA in Washington, D.C. by you, or someone assisting you, please call our Applicant Assistance Unit to verify we are in receipt of your claim.

If more than 60 days have passed since submitting your claim and the grave is still not marked, you should contact the cemetery, funeral home, or other party responsible for accepting delivery of the headstone, marker or medallion to see if they have received it. If they have not received it, you may call our Applicant Assistance Unit between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (ET), Monday through Friday, at 1-800-697-6947.  You may also click on the “Contact Us” link to check the status of your order.

NOTE:  Our funeral professionals will gladly assist you in completing the necessary information for a VA Marker, Headstone or Medallion.  However, our experience with respect to the delivery of VA markers is different than the information the VA provides on their website (as listed above).  Typically, delivery of most VA markers, headstones and medallions are average 6 – 9 months from time of order.

Other VA Benefits for Veterans and their Families

Often times we are asked about the monetary benefits for which a veterans spouse or family may be entitled to

Veteran Benefits

VA Benefits

through the Veterans Administration.  Many of these amounts are set by the Federal Government and may be adjusted from time to time.  Burial Benefits from the VA are paid on a reimbursement basis, which means that the next-of-kin of the deceased will be responsible for paying the funeral expenses and then submitting a claim for reimbursement from the Veterans Administration for eligible expenses.  Burial benefits may be available to an eligible veteran for items such as:

  • Burial Allowance for Funeral Expenses
  • Plot Allowance for Cemetery Space / Mausoleum
  • Transportation Expenses for the deceased from place of death to funeral home
  • Transportation Expenses for the deceased from the funeral home to place of interment

The amounts paid for eligible veterans will be determined based on several factors including whether the death was service related or non-service related and whether the death occurred in a VA facility or while the deceased was “under the care of the VA” if not a VA facility or if the death occurred outside of the VA care.

Since these amounts may vary from time to time, please use this convenient link to the US Department of Veterans Affairs website relating to burial benefits.

Our funeral professionals are more than happy to assist you in completing any necessary VA paperwork in order to submit a claim for possible reimbursement from the VA.

Sources:

The following sites have been used as references in completing this educational resource for veterans and their families.  You may visit these sites for additional information.

US Department of Veteran Affairs:
http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/hmm/index.asp

Smithsonian:
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/how-arlington-national-cemetery-came-to-be-145147007/

US Department of Veteran Affairs:
http://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-special-burial.asp