In the military, you learned the value of planning ahead and being prepared for any situation. Now, as a veteran, that skill is just as important.
Making arrangements for things like long-term care and burial benefits is the first step toward easing the financial burden on yourself and your loved ones as you grow older.
As with other significant life events, such as buying a new home or attending college, the U.S. government provides assistance for military veterans and their families to help them plan for the future. Below are just a few examples of the benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), but you can visit the newly updated VA website for additional information.
Geriatrics and Extended Care
The VA provides a broad range of long-term carehttps://www.va.gov/GERIATRICS/pages/VA_Long_Term_Care_Services.asp services as part of the VA Medical Benefits Package. These include admission to VA nursing homes and state veterans homes, as well as respite care, hospice and palliative care, and skilled home health care. For individuals interested in entering a private assisted living facility, the VA may help pay for added services, though it does not provide assistance with rent. Veterans who meet specific requirements may also be eligible for additional monetary benefits through the VA disability compensation program, the Veterans Pension benefit, and the Aid and Attendance Allowance.
Planning—and especially paying for—a funeral can be incredibly stressful on your loved ones. VA burial benefits can help ease some of the financial burden on military families by providing a gravesite, a government headstone or marker, and a burial flag at no cost to your family. They will also cover the cost of care and maintenance for the grave site. Some families may also be eligible for additional financial assistance (called burial allowances) to help cover funeral expenses for military veterans. This includes up to $2,000 for service-related deaths and up to $796 for non-service-related deaths. You can read more about those benefits here.
Military Funeral Honors
Military funeral honors are provided free of charge to all eligible veterans, as long as they (or their families) can provide proof of military service and show they were discharged under anything but dishonorable conditions. A veteran burial with military funeral honors can be held in a private or national cemetery. During the service, Taps is played and the American flag is folded and presented to the deceased’s next-of-kin. By law, the ceremony must include at least two members of the U.S. armed forces in uniform, including at least one member from the deceased individual’s branch of service.
As you’re making arrangements, make sure you have a copy of your DD214.
One thing all veteran benefits have in common is that you’ll need to provide proof of service before you can take advantage of them. Long-term care assistance, burial benefits, and military funeral honors are no exception.
For members of the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy, this typically means providing a copy of your DD214. You should have received your DD214 when you were discharged from active duty, but if you didn’t, or if you’ve misplaced it or it’s been damaged, you’ll need to order a copy before you can begin filling out your applications.
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