There are many benefits available to eligible veterans at the time of death as a way for the nation to show its gratitude for faithfully defending our country.
The Veterans Administration has recently changed its laws to mandate the rendering of Military Funeral Honors for eligible veterans who desire such honors. As part of the military honors, a flag is presented to the surviving family members. If desired, the Veterans Administration will also provide a headstone free of charge.
Delaware is fortunate to have two excellent veterans cemeteries where eligible veterans can be buried, have cremains buried, or entombed free of charge, with a small charge for the burial of a spouse or dependent child. Below are some FAQs for veterans.
What are the Military Funeral Honors?
As provided by law, an honor guard detail for the burial of an eligible veteran shall consist of not less than two members of the Armed Forces. One member of the detail shall be a representative of the parent Service of the deceased veteran. The honor detail will, at a minimum, perform a ceremony that includes that folding and presenting of the American flag to the next of kin and the playing of Taps. Taps will be played by a bugler, if available, or by electronic recording.
Who is eligible?
- Military members on active duty
- Military retirees
- Members and former members of the Selected Reserve
- Eligible U.S. veterans of any war
- Other U.S. veterans who served at least one term of enlistment and separated under conditions other than dishonorable.
How much does a Military Funeral Honors detail cost?
Military Funeral Honors are provided by the Department of Defense at no cost to the family.
What can the family of an eligible veteran expect?
The core elements of the funeral honors ceremony, which will be conducted on request, are flag folding, flag presentation and Taps.
How much notice should be provided for the honors request?
The Services request at least 48 hours in order to organize the funeral honors detail.
(This information taken from U.S. Department of Defense Military Funeral Honors Funeral Director's Kit)
Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemeteries
Delaware has two convenient veterans cemeteries that can provide an honorable resting place for an eligible veteran and spouse. The cemetery administrators invite you and your family to come for a visit and enjoy the peaceful and beautifully groomed setting. If you are interested in applying, click here now, call, or e-mail our Funeral Home staff and an application will be sent promptly.
The following general information is taken from the Cemetery Application Form:
Who is eligible?
- Any Delaware resident who was honorably discharged from active service, peacetime or wartime, or reservist eligible for retirement pay at age 60.
- The veteran's spouse (peacetime or wartime)
- The veteran's dependents (unmarried, under age 21, or a verifiable lifelong dependency on the veteran)
What is provided?
- Plot -next available (no preselection)
- Vault -Concrete Liner (double depth for veteran spouse)
- Marker -Standard U.S. Government flat bronze marker
- Perpetual care -Provided by the State
What is the cost?
- No cost
- $500 casket burial fee
- $500 cremation burial fee
- $500 cremation in wall fee
Should we pre-apply?
Yes - This assures you a final resting place without delay and eliminates your next-of-kin trying to find military records which can take several days.
The Origin of TAPS
Of all the military bugle calls, none is so easily recognized or more apt to render emotion that Taps. Up to the Civil War, the traditional call at day's end was a tune borrowed from the French called Lights Out. In July of 1862, in the aftermath of the bloody Seven Days Battles, hard on the loss of 600 men and wounded himself, Union General Daniel Adams Butterfield called the brigade bugler to his tent. He thought Lights Outwas too formal and he wished to honor his men. Oliver Wilcox Norton, the bugler, tells the story,
"...showing me some notes on a staff written in pencil on the back of an envelope, [he] asked me to sound them on my bugle. I did this several times, playing the music as written. He changed it somewhat, lengthening some notes and shortening others, but retaining the melody as he first gave it to me. After getting it to his satisfaction, he directed me to sound that call for Taps thereafter in place of the regulation call. The music was beautiful on that still summer night and was heard far beyond the limits of our Brigade. The next day I was visited by several buglers from neighboring Brigades, asking for copies of the music, which I gladly furnished. the call was gradually taken up through the Army of the Potomac."
This more emotive and powerful Taps was soon adopted throughout the military. In 1874 it was officially recognized by the U.S. Army. It became mandatory at military funeral ceremonies in 1891. There is something singularly beautiful and appropriate in the music of this wonderful call. Its strains are melancholy, yet full of rest and peace. It echoes linger in the heart long after its tones have ceased to vibrate in the air.
- from an article by MSG Jari A. Villanueva, USAF as printed in the U.S. Department of Defense Military Funeral Honors Kit.