Military Funeral Honors
Eligible veterans receive the folding and presenting of the American flag to the next of kin and the playing of Taps by a bugler or recording. These honors are performed by an honor guard detail that has at least two members of the Armed Forces. One member must be a representative from the branch in which the veteran served, and this member presents the flag.
Honors also can include:
- The U.S. flag draped over the casket, folded and presented to the next of kin
- The playing of TAPS by a member of the armed forces on a on a bugle or trumpet
- A final salute at the gravesite
What Should I Wear at a Veteran's Funeral?
Depending on the wishes of the family and the deceased, the dress code may range from absolute black, as in traditional services. It can also be white, as in a celebration of life. A specific color decision can be allowed, too, as long as the family permits it. However, to be safe, the color to choose is black.
We usually suggest our visitors pay respects through clothing. Presenting ourselves neatly and in clean clothes is a symbol of care as well. It does not have to be anything fancy but appropriate for the occasion: no ripped or dirty clothes, bright colors or flashy patterns, and distracting accessories.
It is a moment for the family and the person we are saying goodbye to. We can reserve specific details and colors for other occasions.
What Are Empathy Gifts for The Family?
Some of the most meaningful details we have seen during our veteran's funeral services are sympathy cards with beautiful messages. Also, floral arrangements in the colors of our flag and memorial-related gifts, such as lovely photos of the deceased in beautiful frames decorated with American symbols. A book is also a good idea. It does not have to be necessarily about grief and loss. It could be a light-themed book that they would like.
The gift does not have to be expensive. You can do it if you have the financial means to give a gift. If not, simply paying honor and respect is more than appropriate.
In addition to honoring your veteran during the service, we can help contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for:
- Headstones: The VA provides headstones and markers for the graves of veterans anywhere in the world and for eligible dependents of veterans buried in national, state, or military cemeteries.
- A Presidential Memorial Certificate: This certificate shows the nation's recognition of the veteran's service. It includes the veteran's name and the signature of the President.
- Memorial plots: If an eligible veteran's remains are not available for burial, the VA can provide a plot and headstone or marker in a national cemetery for memorialization. If you want to place the memorial in a cemetery other than a national cemetery, the VA will provide the headstone or marker but not the plot.
- Burial in a national cemetery: This includes the gravesite, opening and closing of the grave, a grave box, and perpetual care.
- Reimbursement of burial: For information on eligibility and the different levels of potential reimbursement, please review the Guide to VA Burial Allowances.
Eligibility and Other Resources
Military funeral honors are free and mandated by law for eligible veterans. Eligibility is verified by the veteran’s DD-214, or discharge papers. Check out these resources for more information about honoring veterans and military funerals:
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Click on Veteran Services and look under the Burials & Memorials heading.
- Veterans' Funeral and Burial Benefits. Useful information from the Funeral Consumers Alliance.
Veteran Affairs Offices
We've compiled a list of Veteran Affair Offices that offer services you may find helpful when making your arrangements. (Please contact office in county of residence for benefits.)
Oakland County Veteran's Affairs Office | North Office Building
1200 N. Telegraph Road
Pontiac, MI 48341
Washtenaw County Veteran's Affairs Office
2155 Hogback Road | PO Box 8645
Ann Arbor, MI 48107
Wayne County Veteran's Affairs Office
28 W. Adams, Suite 1710
Detroit, MI 48226
Livingston County Veteran's Affairs Office
2300 E. Grand River
Howell, MI 48843
Great Lakes National Cemetery
4200 Belford Road
Holly, MI 48442