Clarifying veterans’ burial benefits

Kelly Hopkins - Contributing columnist

When I was a young Corporal in the Army, I remember listening to an older Senior NCO, or Non Commission Officer.

He would tell us younger NCO stories about the benefits that we have earned for being in the military. This Senior NCO once even stated that once we got out of the Army and if something happened to us, the Veterans Affairs, or the VA, would bury us and provide a grave stone for free for our families.

As the years have gone by, I have heard these kinds of statements and many more like them from other veterans.

Well, I can tell you that some of that statement is half true. So, with that being said, I wish to attempt to clear up some of the rumors about burial benefits.

First, let us talk about burials. There are 135 National Cemeteries. Burials in a National Cemetery are available to eligible veterans. The gravesite, headstone or marker and perpetual care are provided at no costs.

If the veteran is going to be buried in a private cemetery, the VA will only provide a headstone or marker free of cost. If the veteran is buried in a private cemetery, the veteran’s family can apply for Burial Allowance. This allowance is set by Service-Connected or Non-Service Connected Death of the Veteran and the max allotted amount is only $1,500. ]

Again, this amount varies due to household income and the veteran who is being buried.

Let us now speak a little about headstones and markers. The VA will furnish upon request, at no charge, a government headstone or a marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world, regardless of their date of death.

Flat markers in granite, marble, and bronze and upright headstones in granite and marble are available. Bronze niche markers are also available.

There is no charge for the headstone or marker themselves; however arrangements for placing them in a private cemetery are the responsibility of the family of the Veteran’s.

The Clinton County Veterans Service Commission has been furnishing service markers, commonly referred to as “flag holders” with small flags to the veteran’s family members, cemeteries and honor guards to be placed on veterans’ gravesites for free for many years. Burial flags to be draped over the casket, military honors and presidential memorial certificates honoring the veteran may be requested.

Military honors and playing of Taps are usually arranged by funeral directors on request.

Again, the first place to start on any of these is our Clinton County Veterans Service Commission.

Again, this is only to help clear up a few tales, and VA benefits do change periodicity. So, if you have questions about any VA benefits, please contact the Clinton County Veterans Service Commission. They are located at 43 S. Walnut St.(the old jail), Wilmington, OH 45177.

You can also call for an appointment at 937-382-3233 or find them on Facebook at Clinton County Ohio Veterans Service Commission Office.

Kelly Hopkins of Wilmington is Past Post Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6710.

Kelly Hopkins

Contributing columnist