1. Make sure the veteran's death is reported to the appropriate authorities.
It is important to notify the county coroner, state veterans' affairs office, and/or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Depending on the veteran's branch of service, other relevant military personnel should also be notified of their passing.
2. Contact the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to notify them of the veteran's death and request benefits paperwork.
The VA will need to be notified of the veteran’s passing so that they can provide any surviving family members with information on potential benefits they may be eligible for, such as Dependency and Indemnity Compensation or Survivors Pension. The VA should also be able to provide an official copy of the veteran’s discharge papers, which is necessary for military honors at their funeral or memorial service.
3. Notify the veteran's commanding officer or other relevant military personnel.
Depending on their branch of service, it is important to notify the veteran's former commanding officer or unit leader when they pass away. This is not only a courtesy, but also helps to ensure that any service awards or medals that the veteran may be due are properly presented to their family.
4. Organize and hold a funeral or memorial service for the veteran, in accordance with their wishes (or those of their family).
Organizing and holding a funeral or memorial service is an important part of honoring the memory of the veteran. This should be done in accordance with the wishes of either the veteran themselves (if known) or those of their surviving family members. Depending on whether they meet certain eligibility requirements, you may also need to contact your local Veterans Affairs office to inquire about having military honors performed at the funeral/memorial service.
5. Work with the VA to have the veteran's remains buried in a national cemetery, if desired.
If the veteran is eligible, their surviving family can request that they be buried in an American National Cemetery. This is usually done through the local Veterans Affairs office and requires proper documentation of military service, such as discharge papers or other evidence of eligibility.
6. Assist the family in obtaining any additional benefits they may be entitled to as a result of their loved one’s death.
The VA should be able to provide information on any potential benefits that may be available to survivors of veterans who pass away. This might include Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), Survivors Pension (SP) or Education Assistance (EA). It is important to make sure that any necessary paperwork is filed promptly in order to ensure the family receives all of the benefits they are eligible for.
7. Contact local veteran's organizations to find out if they offer any services to the family of a deceased veteran.
Local veterans' organizations may be able to provide additional support and assistance to families in dealing with their loved one’s death, such as bereavement counseling or financial aid. These organizations can also help with making arrangements for military honors at funerals/memorial services, if needed.
8. Make sure all relevant documents related to the veteran's death are collected, such as the death certificate and military discharge papers.
It is important to have all of the relevant documents related to a veteran's death collected and organized. This includes the death certificate, military discharge papers or any other necessary paperwork. Having these documents on hand can help with filing for benefits as well as planning for funerals/memorial services.
9. If possible, have a special tribute or ceremony honoring the veteran at their funeral or memorial service.
Holding a special tribute or ceremony at the funeral/memorial service can be a powerful way to honor the veteran’s memory. This could include a flag presentation, enlistment oath re-enactment, 21 gun salute, flyover, reading of the veteran’s favorite poem or song and more. It is important to plan this well in advance in order to ensure that all necessary services are available and coordinated properly.
10. Collect any photographs or memorabilia related to the veteran’s military service and keep it safe for future generations.
Collecting and preserving any photographs or memorabilia related to the veteran’s military service can help to keep their memory alive. This might include things like uniforms, patches, awards, medals or any other items that can be saved as a tribute to the veteran’s life and service. Keeping these items safe will ensure they are preserved for future generations to appreciate.