Military Funerals: Honors & Procedures

Military funeral honors are a dignified ceremony and final demonstration of deep gratitude to those who have faithfully defended our country.

Dignity Memorial® professionals are privileged to coordinate the military funeral honors ceremony befitting of your loved one’s service to the United States. Whether your loved one is buried in a VA national cemetery, a state veterans cemetery or a private cemetery, we ensure that all veterans receive the military funeral honors they are entitled to.

Military funeral honors and protocol

U.S. law mandates the rendering of military funeral honors for an eligible veteran, if requested by the family, at no cost by the Department of Defense. Your local Dignity Memorial provider will help your family request military funeral honors and ensure the following benefits are made available.

Folding and presentation of the flag

An esteemed military funeral custom, the folding and presentation of the flag is provided to your family at no cost. All veterans receiving military honors are entitled by law to a minimum of 2 members of the Armed Forces as their honor guard detail. At least one of the honor guard members will be from the veteran’s service branch. The representative of the veteran’s parent service branch will present the flag to the next of kin or, if none is available, a designated friend.

Playing of “Taps”

The playing of “Taps” is an emotionally moving and patriotic military funeral tradition. As buglers are becoming increasingly rare, a ceremonial bugle may be used in lieu of a live performance of “Taps.” A high quality recording of “Taps” performed at Arlington National Cemetery during a service was made and is discreetly hidden in the bell part of a bugle. The service member holds the ceremonial bugle as though being played. This tool offers both the image and beautiful rendition of “Taps” being performed in honor of the veteran. If preferred, Dignity Memorial professionals are happy to assist in locating a local musician to perform “Taps.”

Military funeral honors eligibility

Military funeral honors are available to eligible members of the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Guard.

Those eligible for military funeral honors, as set forth by the Department of Defense, include:

  • Military members who died while on active duty or in the Selected Reserve
  • Former military members who served on active duty or in the Selected Reserve and were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions
  • Former military members who completed at least one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service in the Selected Reserve and were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions

If your loved one is qualified for funeral honors, please notify your Dignity Memorial funeral director that you are interested in having a funeral service complete with military honors. We recommend giving at least 48 hours' notice, if possible, to give our professionals time to organize the ceremony.


Veterans Memorial at Limerick Garden of Memories

Provision of a headstone or marker

The Veterans Administration will provide a headstone, marker or medallion without cost at the request of the veteran’s family. Dignity Memorial professionals can assist you with this request as well. Please note, although the headstone or marker has no cost, there may be a cost associated with placing the tribute if done in a private cemetery.

Additionally, Dignity Memorial providers offer special benefits and discounts on services and merchandise for veterans.


Vets Guide


Plan a memorable cremation funeral

Planning a personalized cremation funeral or memorial is an event unlike any other. We created a guide to help you understand all of your cremation options and how to plan a truly memorable event. A Guide for Families Choosing Cremation is free, and it will help you start planning today. Then, when you are ready, a Dignity Memorial provider will be there to walk you through every step of the cremation process.

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Honoring those who serve

With more than 1,900 licensed funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers in North America, the Dignity Memorial network is the right choice for veterans, active military personnel and their families. We consider it an honor to serve the men and women who have sacrificed for our country. Whether your need is now or you are making final arrangements in advance, you can count on us for professionalism, quality and service excellence.

What's in our free guide?

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Find out what is covered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs based on your service

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Read about how to request important items like a United States flag and a Presidential Memorial Certificate

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Learn how to verify your military service in order to receive your benefits.