Military Funeral Honors & What Families Should Know
Men and women who have selflessly dedicated themselves to protecting the U.S. and preserving our freedom deserve our most profound respect and gratitude. Military service is not just a profession—it is a profound commitment to ensuring the safety of all American citizens. Military funeral honors are meant to pay homage to the bravery and dedication of veterans by providing a deeply respectful farewell that reflects their courage, patriotism, and indomitable spirit.
If you’ve recently experienced the passing of a military veteran in your family, Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons offer our sincere condolences. We’re here to be a resource you need during this challenging time.
In this guide, we will outline the procedures for requesting military funeral honors and what to expect when arranging a military funeral.
What Is Included in Military Funeral Honors?
Specific details of military funeral honors can vary depending on the veteran’s branch of service, rank, and family preferences. Standard military funeral procedures and honors include:
At least two military personnel may be present to perform military funeral procedures. Uniformed personnel are the representatives of the deceased veteran’s branch of service.
Flag Display & Presentation
During a military funeral, the American flag is draped over the casket. The flag is removed, folded during the honors ceremony, and presented to the deceased veteran’s next of kin.
A bugler or trumpeter plays “Taps,” typically during the graveside or interment service.
A rifle volley involves members of the honor guard company firing three shots. Rifle volleys are only performed if the family chooses. When the honor guard completes the volley, they usually fold the three shell-casings into the flag before presenting it to the deceased veteran’s family.
Also referred to as a “three-volley salute” or a “volley,” the rifle salute is performed by a firing party of military personnel. A precisely timed series of three volleys, each consisting of seven rounds, are fired into the air as a sign of respect and farewell.
*A gun salute is only performed for deceased veterans who retired from military service, were killed on active duty, or are Medal of Honor recipients.*
Per Department of Defense guidelines, veterans are eligible to receive military honors if they were:
- Active-duty military personnel who died while on active duty.
- Veterans who served in active military, air, or naval service and received an *honorable* or *under honorable* conditions discharge upon release.
- Former or current members of the selected reserves who were released or discharged from service with an *honorable* or *under honorable conditions* discharge.
If you are unsure whether your loved one is eligible for military funeral honors, contact Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons for more information.
How to Request Military Funeral Honors
Families of eligible veterans can request military funeral honors through their funeral director. Funeral directors handle most of the details regarding procedures and arrangements for a military funeral.
To start this process, you will need to provide a funeral director with your loved one’s DD Form 214.
A DD Form 214 is the official military discharge paper all veterans receive once they have left the military. You can request a copy of your loved one’s DD Form 214 in three ways:
Will the Government Pay for Military Funerals?
Yes, the U.S. government offers financial reimbursement and other benefits to eligible veterans’ spouses, partners, children, parents, and estate administrators.
These benefits are administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and may include:
- An American flag to drape the casket or accompany the urn during services.
- Furnishing a military honors detail to perform traditional funeral honors (playing Taps, rifle salutes, and folding and presenting the flag).
- Burial in a national cemetery for eligible veterans. Additional benefits for national cemetery burials include the graveside, opening and closing of the grave, a vault or grave liner, and continuous care of the gravesite.
- Partial or full reimbursement of burial costs when a veteran is not buried in a national cemetery.
- Partial or full reimbursement of a marker or headstone that includes the inscription of the veteran’s name and military service information.
- Presidential Memorial Certificate provided by the VA that is presented to the veteran’s next of kin at the funeral service.
Loved ones who wish to apply for financial assistance must have their loved one’s death certificate, DD Form 214, and receipts or documents that list funeral service costs. A funeral director can help you gather the documentation you need. You can visit the VA’s website (You can visit the VA’s website to learn more about which veterans are eligible, how to file a reimbursement claim, and burial and headstone allowance amounts. ) to learn more about veteran eligibility requirements, how to file a claim, and burial and headstone allowance amounts.
*Please note that spouses do not have to file a claim, as long as the VA has record of your marriage. When the VA receives a notice of death, they will automatically pay for the plot and the costs associated with interment and transportation.*
Get Help with Planning a Military Funeral By Contacting Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons
At Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons, we understand the importance of honoring and celebrating the lives of our country’s veterans with grace and dignity.
We’ve been helping families plan military funerals across Michigan for four generations. Please contact us today if you need help planning a meaningful and memorable tribute to your loved one. We’re available 24/7.