Everyone at Black Funeral Homes Thanks Our Veterans For Their Service!
Our team has extensive experience working with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and helping veterans and their families through all phases of the arrangement process. Our experience includes arrangement of burials, coordinating military honors, helping with memorialization options, survivor benefits, and transferring remains interred elsewhere, when necessary.
We are located one mile from the Southern Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery and have been associated with the cemetery since its inception. In 2000 John Black, then the president of Riverside Cemetery in Springvale, wanted to offer 64.5 acres of land when news started circulating that the State of Maine was searching for property at which to establish a new veterans' cemetery. Black contacted Marie Clancy, who had long been advocating for veterans' affairs. She contacted state officials, and the Southern Maine Veterans' Memorial Cemetery Committee formed in 2001 to begin the process. The VA approved the cemetery in 2001 and set aside the funds for the groundbreaking on October 7, of 2008. The cemetery was dedicated on August 24, 2010.
Important Information About Veterans Benefits
- The VA does not cover the entire cost of funeral or cremation arrangements.
Many people believe the VA pays all funeral or cremation related expenses for an honorably discharged veteran, but this is not accurate. Certain benefits are available for armed forces retirees with specific qualifications such as a service-connected disability, those who die in a VA medical facility or long term care facility under VA contract. Our team will help determine whether you may be eligible for any of these benefits.
- Discharge Papers
Military service must be verified by providing form DD214, more commonly known as discharge papers. If you do not have a copy of the discharge papers, we can help you obtain a replacement either through the VA Regional Office in Togus or by completing a request with the Military National Personnel Record Center.
- Military Honors Ceremonies
We can help coordinate military honors to be rendered at the cemetery or other place of service if you would like. Traditional military honors include the playing of “Taps” and a flag ceremony including folding and presentation to the family.
- Burial in a VA Cemetery
Burial in a VA cemetery is an option for any member of the armed forces who dies while on active duty or any veteran who was discharged honorably. A surviving spouse and minor children of an eligible veteran are also entitled to this benefit. Southern Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery located in Springvale is the closest VA cemetery in our area. This cemetery provides a grave site, opening and closing of the grave, and a headstone with perpetual care included with no charge to the family for any of these services. For those choosing cremation, an urn may be buried as a casket would be, including the same ceremony and honor as a traditional burial. The cemetery does not reserve burial plots in advance, however you can obtain a Certificate of Eligibility which informs the state of intentions to be buried in a VA cemetery within the state. A specific plot will be assigned as it is needed at the time of death, however you can reserve an adjacent space for a spouse or minor to be buried next to the veteran. Burial services are held one at a time and occur between 9am and 2pm. The VA cemetery is closed on holidays, weekends, and state shut down days. Our team will work with you to make all of the arrangements and coordinate service details with the VA cemetery.
- Burial Allowance
The VA provides a burial allowance for partial reimbursement of burial costs incurred for an eligible veteran. The allowance provides up to $300 to help cover burial costs with an additional plot allowance of up to $300 for non-service related deaths. Up to $2,000 in benefits may be paid if the death was service related. We can help you determine eligibility for these allowances and with submitting the appropriate paperwork to the VA for reimbursement.
A casket is not provided by the VA or branch of the military except in situations where the death occurs on active duty. If you are interested in a veteran casket, there are several styles and colors to choose from with personalization options for each branch of service.
- Presidential Certificate
All eligible veterans can receive an engraved paper certificate signed by the current president to honor their memory and their service after their death. We can help you complete the required application to receive copies of this certificate if you are interested.
The VA will provide a Government headstone or grave marker for the unmarked grave of any eligible veteran at no charge, regardless of the date of death. If the death occured after November 1, 1990, a headstone or marker may also be provided for graves already marked with a private headstone or marker. In this situation, you may apply for a traditional headstone or marker or a medallion that can be placed alongside the existing monument.
If choosing a Government headstone or marker, you can select between flat markers or upright headstones. Flat markers are available in granite, marble, or bronze. Upright headstones are made from either granite or marble. You must choose a style consistent with the existing monuments in the cemetery of your choice. A niche marker is also an option for those choosing to mark a columbaria if the remains were cremated and placed in an urn. While the headstone or marker is provided by the VA with no charge to the family, you may be responsible for fees related to installation if the placement is occurring in a private cemetery.
We will assist with completing and filing the required documents if you would like to order a government headstone or marker. Our team will help you review the options and determine which choices best suit your needs and the requirements of your burial location. We will also accept delivery of the headstone or plaque and confirm proper inscription, and arrange for installation, including coordinating payment of any installation fees you may be responsible for.
If the burial is occurring in a national cemetery, state VA cemetery, or on a military post or base cemetery, the cemetery officials will help you order the headstone or marker using inscription information provided by the family. Spouses and dependents are not eligible for a government headstone unless they are being buried in one of the locations listed above.
Veterans Burial Flags
A United States flag can be provided by the VA at no cost to eligible veterans. This flag is intended to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a veteran and then is kept by the family as a keepsake in their memory. The flag is generally given to the next-of-kin and only one may be provided.
The VA will provide a flag for the following eligible veterans:
- A veteran who served during wartime
- A veteran who died on active duty after May 27, 1941
- A veteran who served after January 31, 1955
- A peacetime veteran who was discharged or released before June 27, 1950
- Certain persons who served in the organized military forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines while in service of the U.S. Armed
- Forces and who died on or after April 25, 1951
- Certain former members of the Selected Reserves
Who Is Eligible to Receive the Burial Flag?
The flag is typically given to the next-of-kin at the conclusion of the flag ceremony during the funeral service. It is meant to be kept as a keepsake indoors and not suitable for using outdoors on a long term basis. If there is no next-of-kin to receive the flag, it will be given to the individual making the request to the VA. Some families of veterans buried in national cemeteries choose to donate their flag to the VA Avenue of Flags program, which flies flags on patriotic holidays in recognition of deceased veterans and their service.
How Can You Apply?
You need to submit the Application for a United States Flag for Burial Purposes, VA Form 27-2008. You can complete the form online, and receive the flag at any U.S. Post Office or your regional VA office. We will also help you obtain a flag if you would like to apply for one while we are working on planning services for your loved one.
Can a Burial Flag Be Replaced?
The VA is limited to providing one flag per veteran for their funeral, and unfortunately flags cannot be replaced if they are lost, destroyed, or stolen. It is important to keep the flag in a safe place to avoid this happening. There are keepsake options and flag cases available if that is something you would like to consider. Some veterans and community organizations may be able to help you obtain a replacement flag in the event you need one.
How Should the Burial Flag Be Displayed?
Flag presentation depends on whether you choose an open or closed casket funeral service. The VA provides guidelines for the correct ways to display and fold the flag, which can be found here. Again, because of the delicate nature of burial flags, they are intended to be a symbolic memento and should not be displayed outside.
Flag Retirement Program
Beginning Memorial Day of 2021, we are initiating a Flag Retirement Program to honor our national heroes and to give dignity to our American Flag when it is no longer worthy of display.
In an effort to honor our deceased veterans whose final disposition includes cremation, and to assist with the proper and respectful disposal of those flags that are no longer worthy of display, we are introducing our flag retirement program. It is our desire that every deceased United States Veteran whose family has elected cremation be draped with the United States Flag.
We are seeking your help with this program. Please help us to spread the word that we are collecting aged and worn flags to be properly disposed of while honoring a deceased veteran. Flags can be delivered to our location at 580 Main Street in Springvale. It is important to note that there is no charge for this service to our veterans.
Should you have any questions regarding this program, please do not hesitate to contact our office. We thank you in advance for your help in making this program a reality and for all you do for our veteran community every day.
According to the United States code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Subsection 8: "The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning."
We can never forget or diminish the sacrifices our fallen veterans made for our nation. May God Bless them and may God Bless you for remembering them.
For details please contact Black Funeral Homes using our contact form.