Every year at this time, I always like to remind our wonderful veterans about their benefits when it comes to funerals. This year I have decided to talk about some real life situations that I have encountered when talking to veterans and their families. The one line I always encounter is, “I never knew that.” I hope these incidents might be helpful to you as you consider your end of life options and funeral arrangements.
Case # 1
I walked into the morgue of a hospital and there were 5 expirations. I asked the nursing supervisor, “Did all these deaths happen during this past day?” She said that some of these people did not have families to claim them and some had families but did not have funds to have a proper funeral and that the state would cremate them after 10 days.
I asked the nursing supervisor, “Are any of these people veterans?” She said no, “they are all women.” I continued asking, “Are any of these women veterans?” She said that she did not know. Again I asked, “Are any of these women, wives of veterans?” She again responded, “I don’t know.” Again, I asked her a question. I asked, ‘are any of these women dependent daughters of veterans?” I could tell that the nursing supervisor was getting upset as she declared, “I don’t know!” She then asked me, “Why are you asking so many questions?” I told her that if any of these women were veterans, wives of veterans, or dependent children of veterans, they would be entitled to a free grave, free opening / closing of the grave, free outside interment receptacle (concrete liner) and free monument at a VA National Cemetery. The nursing supervisor responded, “I didn’t know that.”,
Case # 2
A friend of mine lost his brother. When we were making the funeral arrangements, he blurted out that he would take care of his nieces, his deceased brother’s daughters when they die. I told him that I didn’t even know your brother had children. I asked, “Why are they not here making the funeral arrangements?” My friend said that his nieces were born medically challenged. I asked my friend where they were residing. He told me that they were in an institution. I continued to ask how old were the children and how long have they lived in the institution? He said his nieces were in their early 30’s and have lived in the institution for almost all their lives. My friend asked, “Mike, why are you asking all these questions about my brother’s children?” I told him that because his nieces were dependent upon their father and that they would never be able to live on their own because of their illness, the national cemetery would make arrangements for these beautiful children to be buried with their father upon their deaths in the national cemetery (free burial, free opening / closing of grave, free outer interment receptacle and free inscription on their father’s headstone). My friend said I never knew that. I told him I’m glad you blurted the information out when you did.