In order to apply for veteran’s benefits, whether federal or local, military discharge papers are required. The following benefits may be applied for with the proper documentation:
A. United States of America Flag - An honorably discharged veteran is entitled to one U.S. flag provided by the Veterans Administration. This flag is typically displayed inside the casket panel during visitation, draped over the casket during movement to a cemetery and/or displayed with a cremation urn.
B. Free Death Certificates – In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, free certified copies of the death certificate are available for the deceased veteran, spouse or dependent child of the veteran.
C. Presidential Memorial Certificate - This certificate, designed to honor a deceased veteran with an honorable discharge, is signed by the sitting President of the United States at the time of the application.
D. Military Funeral Honors – This ceremony consists of two members of the armed forces who will fold the flag, play Taps, and present the flag to the designated next of kin. When requested, local veteran service organizations may complement the military funeral honors detail.
E. Burial in a National Cemetery – For the most part, any honorably discharged veteran is eligible for burial in a national cemetery. If approved, the grave space, outer burial container, headstone or marker and interment fees are provided free of charge for the veteran, spouse and dependent children. Grave spaces cannot be reserved in advance and are assigned to the eligible veteran on an as needed basis.
F. Headstone or Marker – Honorably discharged veterans are entitled to an inscribed headstone or marker to mark their grave at any cemetery. For burial in a private cemetery, the marker is delivered at no cost. However, most cemeteries will charge for the foundation and installation of the veteran’s headstone or marker.
G. Federal Monetary Benefits – If a veteran is receiving disability benefits from the Veteran’s Administration at the time of death, they may be eligible for a $300.00 burial allowance and a $300.00 interment plot allowance. In addition, any death that occurs in a V.A. Hospital or designated health care facility, may entitle the veteran to a transportation allowance. Finally, $2,000 is available if the veteran died during active duty; or is an honorably discharged veteran and died as a result of a service-connected injury.
H. County Monetary Benefits – Each county in Southwestern Pennsylvania has some form of monetary benefits available for veterans. Locally, Allegheny County has a $100.00 wartime veteran’s burial allowance, $100.00 wartime widow’s burial allowance and $50.00 marker allowance. Fayette County has a $100.00 wartime veteran’s burial allowance, $100.00 wartime widow’s burial allowance, $50.00 marker allowance and $75.00 lettering allowance. Washington County has a $75.00 wartime veteran’s burial allowance, $75.00 wartime widow’s burial allowance and $100.00 marker allowance. Westmoreland County has a $75.00 wartime veteran’s burial allowance, $75.00 wartime widow’s burial allowance, $50.00 marker allowance, $25.00 marker installation allowance and $35.00 lettering allowance.
Allegheny County Department of Veterans Services 412-621-4357
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs 800-827-1000
National Military Personnel Record Center 866-272-6276