Some of the funerals at funeral homes in Shaker Heights, OH are for men and women who have bravely and proudly served in the armed forces of the United States to protect and defend our country. Whether they served in the military for just one tour or they served many years and retired, military veterans are entitled to funeral benefits when they die.
If your deceased loved one is a military veteran, they are entitled to free burial at a national cemetery. Your funeral home will make all the arrangements for the burial with the local Department of Veterans Affairs.
A free grave marker will be placed on your loved one’s gravesite, and military honors will be presented. If you are a spouse or dependent of the deceased military veteran, you are also entitled to free burial in the same national cemetery as well.
Military honors consist of the presentation of the American flag to a family member during the funeral service or graveside service by military personnel or by a local veterans organization. Military honors also include a 21-gun salute and the playing of “Taps.”
Your funeral director will ensure that all these arrangements are made in advance of the funeral service or graveside service so that everything that you want to make sure that your deceased loved one’s military service to the United States is highlighted and honored is done flawlessly.
There are also some other services out of the Department of Veterans Affairs that your funeral director can have in place at your loved one’s funeral or graveside service. One of these is having the local chapter of the Patriot Guard Riders to provide an honor guard at your loved one’s funeral service or graveside service.
Patriot Guard Riders were formed in 2005 to protect deceased military veterans’ families from the Westboro Baptist Church protestors. These protesters began showing up at funerals for military veterans who had died during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. They claimed these deaths of American service people were God’s retribution for America’s sins.
These protests were so disruptive and frightening that the Patriot Guard Riders took it upon themselves to literally form a human shield around the funerals of military veterans so that their families and other mourners could peacefully say goodbye to their loved ones.
While there are few such protests today at the funerals of military veterans, the Patriot Guard Riders continue to perform the service of being an honor guard at the funeral services for members of the armed forces.
They are also engaged in making sure that military veterans are welcomed home when they are returning from overseas duty and serving as volunteers in veterans organizations that support military personnel once they are back in the United States. They also have a charitable arm that helps military families who are in financial need.
If your deceased loved one is a military veteran, then you will need to bring their military separation papers (Form DD-214) to the funeral home when you meet with the funeral director to make funeral arrangements.
If for some reason, you don’t have their military discharge papers, you can go to the government’s Veterans’ Service Records page to request them. If your loved one served in the military between 1952 and 1969, the records may not be available online because of a major fire in the St. Louis archive building. However, your local Department of Veterans Affairs can help you locate the DD-214.