Memorial Day is set aside to honor those who passed away bravely serving their country. For those of us in the funeral business, Memorial Day comes more than once a year. At Legacy Funeral Chapels, it’s a privilege for our staff to attend to veterans and their families at their time of loss.
That privilege often begins when we receive notification that a veteran has passed away. It’s heartwarming to see the respect we encounter when we carry a deceased veteran from a nursing home, hospital or private home. We drape an American flag over the deceased, instead of the usual quilt, and everyone we pass stops and takes notice.
In my career, I’ve handled hundreds of veterans’ funerals, and I’ve witnessed powerful and touching farewells that fittingly recognize the military service of the deceased.
When I speak with families of veterans, they’re sometimes unclear about funeral benefits. Just what are veterans eligible for at the time of death, and how much will it cost?
Eligibility is determined by the DD Form 214 – the military discharge papers, which can take time to receive if you don’t already have them filed away. Our staff can help with this process, or you can check with the county’s veterans service office. Everyone’s military service is different, so it’s important to talk with someone who’s an authority on military benefits to see what’s available.
Generally at no cost, each veteran is eligible for:
- An American flag, made to drape over the casket, but often folded and given to the family as a keepsake.
- A Presidential Memorial Certificate signed by the sitting president. The family of the deceased veteran can request multiple copies.
- Military honors as a funeral service concludes. These may include a flag ceremony, taps and firing detail. The Gillett area has a good group of veterans who take these duties very seriously.
- A veterans’ marker for placement at a burial site.
- A no-cost burial at a cemetery for veterans. The nearest cemetery is in King, Wisconsin.
- And possibly, a burial allowance. We work with families on a case-by-case basis to find out if funding is available.
Not everyone has served in the military, yet everyone can connect with the sentiments of patriotism and sacrifice that we recognize each Memorial Day. We at Legacy Funeral Chapels salute our veterans, past and present, and thank them for their service to our country.