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Military Funerals


We are planning a funeral for my father-in-law who served in the Royal British Navy, but is now an American citizen. What flag should we use and is taps played for someone who served in Royal Navy?

I'd like to do a little more research on this but I thought I might give you a little preliminary information in the meantime.

In regard to the type of flag to drape over the casket; only veterans of the US armed forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard) are permitted to have their casket draped with the US Flag. I think there is also a provision for certain government officials as well. So unless your father-in-law was also a US veteran, you may be limited to draping the casket with the Union Jack.

I don't know of any restrictions on the playing of taps, but it may be more appropriate to use the hymn for Royal British Navy veterans. I will get back to you with more information about the song. Also, I'm quite sure that you could get your local VFW or American Legion to help with the folding of the flag and the service that goes along with it. Just ask your local funeral director to call them for you. I'll have more information soon. -- Kevin Stockham

Veterans Benefits Information
National Cemeteries In Illinois:

Illinois — The Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery
7034 South Diagonal Road
Elwood, Illinois 60421
(815) 423-9958

IL, Alton — Alton National Cemetery
600 Pearl Street 62003

IL, Danville — Danville National Cemetery - Vets. Admin. Ho
1900 East Main 61832

IL, Mound City — Mound City National Cemetery
P. O. Box 38 62963

IL, Quincy — Quincy National Cemetery
36th & Main Street 62301

IL, Rock Island — Rock Island National Cemetery
P.O. Box 737: Rock Island Arsenal 61299

IL, Springfield — Camp Butler National Cemetery
R.F.D. No. 1 62707

General Information
ELIGIBILITY Burial in a national cemetery is based on military service. Requests for interment in national cemeteries should be directed to cemetery staff at the cemetery where burial is sought. The cemetery director determines eligibility for burial, usually at the time of need.

Arlington National Cemetery is under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Army. Inquires concerning eligibility for interment should be directed to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Eligibility criteria for burial in state veterans cemeteries are the same or similar to criteria for burial in VA national cemeteries; however, some states have residency requirements and other more restrictive requirements.

ASSIGNMENT OF SPACE The National Cemetery System is authorized to bury eligible veterans and their dependents in any VA national cemetery with available grave space.

One gravesite is authorized for the interment of all eligible members of a family, except where soil conditions require more than one gravesite.

A gravesite is NOT RESERVED before it is needed for a burial. VA continues to honor reservations made prior to 1962, when cemeteries were under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Army and reservation were allowed. When a death occurs and eligibility for interment in a national cemetery is determined, grave space is assigned by the cemetery director in the name of the veteran.

ENTITLEMENTS TO BURIAL BENEFITS (NATIONAL CEMETERY COSTS) Burial benefits in a VA national cemetery include the gravesite, opening and closing of the grave, and perpetual care. Many national cemeteries have columbaria or special gravesites for cremated remains.

Head stones and their placement are provided at the government's expense. Headstones are also available for eligible dependents of veterans buried in national, state veteran or military post cemeteries. Flat bronze, flat granite, flat marble and upright marble types are available to mark the grave in a style consistent with the cemetery. Niche markers are also available for urns. When burial occurs in a cemetery other than a national, military post or state veteran's cemetery, the headstone or marker must be applied for from VA. It is shipped at government expense. VA, however, does NOT pay the cost of placing the headstone or marker on the grave. VA cannot issue a headstone or marker for a spouse or child buried in a private cemetery.

Veterans and service members who die on active duty and their dependents are eligible for burial in one of VA's 114 national cemeteries.

Cemeteries do not provide military honors but may make referrals to military units or volunteer groups.

An American flag may be acquired to drape the casket of a veteran who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. After the committal service at the national cemetery, the flag may be given to the next of kin or a close associate of the deceased. The flag may also be donated to the national cemetery to be flown on appropriate days if the cemetery has an Avenue of Flags.

REIMBURSEMENT OF BURIAL EXPENSES VA will pay a burial allowance up to $1500.00 if the veteran's death is service-connected. VA also will pay the cost of transporting the remains of a service-disabled veteran to the national cemetery nearest the home of a deceased that has available gravesites. In such cases, the person who bore the veteran's burial expenses may claim reimbursement from VA. VA will pay $300.00 burial and funeral expense allowance for veterans who, at time of death, were entitled to receive pension or compensation but for receipt of military retirement pay. Eligibility is also established when a death occurs in a VA facility or a nursing home with which VA contacted. Additional costs of transportation of the remains may be reimbursed. There is no time limit for filing reimbursement claims of service -connected deaths. In other deaths, claims must be filed within two years after permanent burial of cremation.

VA will pay a $150.00 plot allowance when a veteran is not buried in a cemetery that is under U.S. government jurisdiction if the veteran is discharged from active duty because of disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, if the veteran was in receipt of compensation or pension or would been in receipt of compensation but for receipt of military retired pay, or if the veteran died while hospitalized by VA.

OFFSETTING BENEFITS Certain Government benefits that can help to defray expenses are:

  • Payment for transportation of the remains of active duty personnel (or dependents) from place of death to final destination.
  • Burial allowances for veterans. Contact VA for information on eligibility and amount.
  • Social Security burial benefits. Contact the nearest office of the Social Security Administration for details.

Your funeral director will be able to assist you and your family in all of these arrangements.

Responsibilities of the Family

  • Visitation and Funeral Service
  • Casket
  • Memorial cards/thank you cards/register book
  • Flowers
  • Clergy
  • Certified copies of the death certificate
  • Newspaper notices
  • Funeral luncheon


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