The BRAVE Act & Military Honors Funerals: Updates to Veterans’ Burial Benefits

by Ann Heinz, JD, CDEI | Feb 18, 2021

Funeral professionals will undoubtedly be asked at various times in their careers to arrange military funeral honors for a veteran. The next time a veteran’s survivor asks you to perform a military honors funeral, it’ll be important to know about the BRAVE Act and the recent changes made to veterans’ burial benefits.

Related Funeral CE Course: Funeral Customs with Military Honors

Brave Act: Updates to Veterans' Burial Benefits

BRAVE Act Changes to Veterans' Burial Benefits

The BRAVE Act was signed into law in January 2021 as part of H.R. 7105, the omnibus veterans’ bill. This new legislation made some changes and updates to veteran burial benefits.

Previously, the law provided more funds to the survivors of veterans who died in a Department of Veterans Affairs facility than to the survivors of veterans who died outside of a Department of Veterans Affairs facility (for example, at home, a non-VA hospital, or another medical facility).

Prior to the passage of H.R. 7105 and the BRAVE Act, survivors of veterans whose deaths were not related to their military service received the following burial benefits:

  • Death inside a V.A. facility: $807 burial allowance and $807 for a plot
  • Death outside a V.A. facility: $300 burial allowance and $807 for a plot

The BRAVE Act updated these burial benefits to treat all non-service-related deaths equally, regardless of whether the veteran died in a V.A. facility. These benefits were updated by the BRAVE Act as follows:

  • All non-service-connected deaths, regardless of the place of death: $807 burial allowance and $807 plot allowance
  • The benefits for all non-service-connected deaths will also be indexed for inflation

Additionally, H.R. 7105 and the BRAVE Act also made the following changes:

  • Expanded transportation of deceased veterans to veterans’ cemeteries
  • Extended the V.A.’s requirements for outer burial receptacles to cemeteries
  • Authorized the V.A. to replace existing VA-furnished headstones to add inscriptions for deceased spouses and eligible dependent children, as well as allow for inscriptions on gravestones furnished by the V.A. if the spouse or eligible dependent child predeceases the veteran
  • Made grants via the Veterans Cemetery Grants Program to counties for veterans’ cemeteries
  • Authorized the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) to furnish an urn or a commemorative plaque in lieu of a headstone or marker to eligible individuals whose cremated remains are not interred in a cemetery

Learn Military Honors Funeral Customs with WebCE

To learn more about military honors funeral customs, WebCE offers our continuing education course Funeral Customs with Military Honors. In this course, funeral directors learn how to organize, plan, and conduct military funerals. It also addresses important topics, including:

  • military funeral honors law
  • the proper positioning of military pallbearers, color guard, and clergy during a military service
  • flag etiquette and how to correctly display a U.S. military burial flag
  • how much the V.A. will reimburse for burial expenses
  • how headstones and markers for a member of the military should be inscribed
  • and more!

WebCE offers the largest selection of state-specific funeral C.E. courses for funeral directors, cremationists, embalmers, and direct disposers. To order this and other continuing education courses, visit our Funeral C.E. Course Catalog or call our customer service representatives at 877-488-9308.