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Burial Benefits and Resources

Passing of a Veteran: Next steps

Make Funeral Arrangements (Work with your funeral home): The funeral home should help you obtain the discharge paperwork, schedule Military Honors, and help to complete reimbursement paperwork. Burial benefits are available to veterans who have served on active duty and did not receive a dishonorable discharge (as indicated on discharge paperwork). Benefits can include a grave site in a national cemetery with available space, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family.

If you are NOT working with a funeral home:
Secure discharge paperwork (DD214, DD256 or NGB22):
You will need the veteran’s discharge paperwork to receive military funeral honors, national cemetery burial, or other federal VA benefits.
- Michigan National Guard Records (NGB22) for guardsmen 517-481-8331.
- National Personnel Records Center for (DD256) for reserves 314-801-0800.
- All others or unknown call 800-642-4838 or request online

To schedule a burial at a National Cemetery you will need to complete a two-step process: Call 1-800-535-1117 and fax DD214 and additional discharge documentation to (866) 900-6417 or scan and email to Follow-up with a phone call to 1-800-535-1117. For more information visit the National Cemetery Administration website.

National Cemeteries in Michigan:
- Great Lakes National Cemetery Holly, MI (248)328-0386
- Lakeside Cemetery Port Huron, MI (810)987-6000
- Fort Custer National Cemetery Augusta, MI (269)731-4164
- Fort Mackinac Cemetery Mackinac Island, MI (248)328-0386

Make an appointment with your Veterans Service Officer (VSO): A Veterans Service Officer will help you apply for the benefits available to you. Based on the service record of the deceased you may be entitled to Government Marker/Headstone/Medallion, Presidential Memorial Certificates, Burial Reimbursement, Surviving Spousal Pension (income-based program, the veteran must have served during a recognized wartime period), Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (service-connected death). Find a VSO using our benefits counselor tool.

Useful Documents to have for your VSO appointment:
- Veteran’s DD214
- Death Certificate
- Itemized burial expenses
- Proof of relationship
- Proof of income (if applying for pension)

To collect unpaid allowances and/or avoid incurring debt:
VA Pension, Compensation and Healthcare: Call 1-800-827-1000 option 6 if your veteran was receiving VA Pension, compensation or healthcare. The next of kin must notify the federal VA immediately and ensure they have the veteran’s full name, social security number, branch of service, date of birth, and date of death.

Social Security Office: 1-800-772-1213

VA Sponsored Life Insurance: 1-800-669-8477 Option 1 (need veteran Social Security Number or insurance policy number)

Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS): (retired military only) 1-888-332-7411 option 2
Note: Ask if the deceased retiree enrolled in the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)

Veteran's Group Life Insurance (VGLI): (retired military only) 1-800-419-1473

Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)/Tricare Insurance: Send in death certificate include a cover sheet with veteran Social Security Number, your contact number and state that you are reporting death of veteran.
Fax: (800) 336-4416
DMDC Support Office
400 Gigling Rd
Seaside, CA 93955
Email (encrypted only):

VA healthcare: 1-877-222-8387 (need veteran Social Security Number or insurance policy number)

  • Burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the Armed Forces as well as veterans who have met minimum active duty service requirements and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. Burial benefits available include a gravesite in any of the national cemeteries with available space, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a government headstone or marker, a burial flag and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Some veterans may also be eligible for Burial Allowances.  

    Cremated remains are buried or inurned in national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains. 

    Burial benefits available for spouses and dependents buried in a national cemetery include burial with the veteran, perpetual care and the spouse or dependent's name and date of birth and death inscribed on the veteran's headstone, at no cost to the family. Eligible spouses and dependents may be buried, even if they predecease the veteran. 

    There are two national cemeteries in Michigan still accepting remains: 

    To coordinate burial in a national cemetery, contact: 

    1-800-MICH-VET (800-642-4838) 

    National Cemetery Scheduling Office 

  • Resources exist for funeral directors and medical examiners to provide unclaimed veteran remains with a respectful burial or cremation and internment.


    If a veteran's unclaimed remains are delivered first to the medical examiner's office and the ME is not able to locate a next of kin or if an identified next of kin refuses to accept responsibility for the remains, the ME considers the remains to be unclaimed. Remains can be transferred to a funeral home for burial preparations. 


    A licensed funeral director in receipt of unclaimed veteran remains is guided by Michigan statute to make a diligent search for any next of kin. After a six-month holding period and a 30-day waiting period, the funeral director is immune from any civil liability and is allowed to arrange the disposition of the unclaimed remains. 
    Michigan statute allows a licensed funeral director to release the list of names of cremated remains that have been in his/her possession for six months or more to any federally chartered veterans service organization, such as the VA or Missing in America Project.


    A ME or funeral director needing to determine the veteran status of any remains can contact MVAA at 800-MICH-VET (800-642-4838) or the local county veterans service office. To assist with expedient identification, it is helpful to provide any or all of the following information about the deceased: 

    Correct spelling of his or her full name
    Date of birth
    Social Security Number
    Approximate dates of service
    Branch of service 

    If the deceased is determined to be a veteran through the Michigan archives, MVAA can provide a copy of his or her discharge papers verifying service. If there is no military record of the deceased in the Michigan archives, a form SF 180 can be completed and faxed to the National Archives Customer Service Team at 314-801-0764 to determine veteran status. Mark on the cover page "Immediate burial for unclaimed remains."


    If the deceased is eligible for burial benefits as an unclaimed veteran, the National Cemetery Administration will coordinate burial in any of the national cemeteries with available space. An unclaimed spouse of a veteran may be eligible for burial in a national cemetery. 
    To coordinate burial in a national cemetery for unclaimed remains, contact:
    Missing in America Project
    Mary Compeau at 
    Stephen Fletcher at