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Military Funeral Honors Frequently Asked Questions

Information on Military Honors, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits, and answers to frequently asked questions are at the Military Funeral Honors web The web site contains up-to-date information and direct links to other related web sites.

1. What is Military Funeral Honors?

The basic Military Funeral Honors ceremony consists of the folding and presentation of the United States flag to the veteran's family and the playing of Taps. The ceremony is performed by a funeral honors detail consisting of at least two members of the Armed Forces. At least one of the funeral honors detail will be from the Armed Force in which the deceased veteran served. Taps may be played by a bugler or, if a bugler is not available, by using a quality recorded version. This basic ceremony will be provided to every eligible veteran, when requested. Depending upon the culture and traditions of the Military Service, additional personnel or other elements of funeral honors may be added.

In addition, local Veterans Service Organizations (VSO), who have historically performed Military Funeral Honors, and other authorized organization may complement the Military Funeral Honors detail. For example, the VSOs might augment the ceremony by providing a firing party. This voluntary assistance would be in addition to the services provided by the Military Funeral Honors detail. If there is a VSO or authorized organization in the area that might have an interest in assisting in the Military Funeral Honors ceremony, and if desired by the family, the funeral director should notify the Military Service point of contact.

2. How do I establish veteran eligibility?

The preferred method is the DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. If the DD Form 214 is not available, any discharge document showing other than dishonorable service can be used. The DD 214 may be obtained by filling out a Standard Form 180 and sending it to:

National Personnel Records Center (NPRC)
9700 Page Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63132

The standard Form 180 may be obtained from the National Records Center or via the Internet at:

3. Who is eligible for a burial flag

The VA establishes eligibility. Your funeral director will assist you in obtaining a flag. More information is available at:

4. What is a Presidential Memorial Certificate? Who is eligible to receive this certificate? How does the family obtain this certificate?

This is a parchment certificate with a calligraphic inscription expressing the nation s grateful recognition of an honorably discharged, deceased veteran's service in the Armed Forces. The veteran's name is inscribed and the certificate bears the signature of the President.

All veterans are eligible to receive this certificate. The family may request a Presidential Memorial Certificate either in person at any VA regional office or by U.S. mail. Requests cannot be sent via email. There is no form to fill out when requesting this certificate. If requesting by mail, a return address and a copy of the veterans's discharge documents must be enclosed. Send requests to:

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
National Cemetery Administration (403A)
810 Vermont Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20420
More information is available at:
5. How do I request a grave marker?

Saunders-Dwyer Funeral Homes will assist you or if you have questions about grave markers, family members can write to the VA at:

Memorial Programs Service (403)
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20420
More information is available at:
6. To whom can I write to express comments or concerns about the Military Funeral Honors program?

You may write to:

Military Funeral Honors
9504 IH 35 North, Suite 320
San Antonio, TX 78233-663

Veterans Services Site


Social Security Information

A Message from Social Security

Your funeral director is helping the Social Security office by giving you this information about Social Security benefits. If the deceased was receiving benefits, you need to contact us to report the death. If you think you may be eligible for survivors benefits, you should contact us to apply.

How Social Security helps families

Social Security survivors benefits help ease the financial burden that follows a worker's death. Almost all children under age 18 will get monthly benefits if a working parent dies. Other family members may be eligible for benefits, too. Anyone who has worked and paid Social Security (FICA) taxes has been earning Social Security benefits for his or her family. The amount of work needed to pay survivors benefits depends on the worker's age at the time of death. It may be as little as 1-1/2 years for a young worker. No one needs more than 10 years.

Who can get survivors benefits?

Here is a list of family members who usually can get benefits:

  • Widows and widowers age 60 or older.
  • Widows and widowers at any age if caring for the deceased s children who are under age 16 or disabled.
  • Divorced wives and husbands age 60 or older, if married to the deceased 10 years or more.
  • Widows, Widowers, Divorced wives and divorced husbands age 50 or older, if they are disabled.
  • Children up to age 18.
  • Children age 18-19, if the attend elementary or high school full time.
  • Children over age 18, if they become disabled before age 22.
  • The deceased worker s parents age 62 or older,if they were being supported by the worker.
A special one-time payment

In addition to the monthly benefits for family members, a one-time payment of $255 can be paid to a spouse who was living with the worker at the time of death. If there is none, it can be paid to:

  • A spouse who is eligible for benefits.
  • A child or children eligible for benefits.
  • This payment cannot be made if there is no eligible spouse or child.
How to apply for benefits

You can apply for benefits by telephone or by going to any Social Security office.

You may need some of the documents shown on the list below. But don t delay your application because you don t have all the information. If you don t have a document you need, Social Security can help you get it.

Information Needed
  • Your Social Security number and the deceased worker s Social Security number.
  • A death certificate. (Generally, the funeral director provides a statement that can be used for this purpose.
  • Proof of the deceased worker s earnings for last year (W-2 forms or self-employment tax return).
  • Your birth certificate.
  • A marriage certificate, if you are applying for benefits as a widow, widower, divorced wife, or divorced husband.
  • A divorce decree, if you are applying for benefits as a divorced wife or husband.
  • Children s birth certificates and Social Security numbers, if applying for children s benefits.
  • Your checking or savings account information, if you want direct deposit of your benefits.
  • You will need to submit original documents or copies certified by the issuing office.

You can mail or bring them to the office. Social Security will make photocopies and return your documents.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

If you are 65 or older, disabled, or blind, ask the Social Security representative about supplemental security Income (SSI) checks for people with limited income and resources. If you receive SSI, you may also qualify for Medicaid, food stamps, and other social services.

For More Information
Social Security Online
Social Security Site

For more information, write or visit any Social Security office, or phone the toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213. You can speak to a representative weekdays 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

A reminder

If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, any checks which arrive after death will need to be returned to the Social Security office. If Social Security checks were being directly deposited into a bank account, the bank needs to be notified of the death, too.


Elderly Services

Councils on Aging

New Bedford COA Dorothy Koczera 508-991-6250
572 Pleasant St.
New Bedford, MA 02740

Mattapoisett COA Cynthia Page 508-758-4110
57 Fairhaven Rd.
Mattapoisett, MA 02739

Fairhaven COA Betty Lacerda 508-979-4029
229 Huttleston Ave.
Fairhaven, MA 02719

Acushnet COA William Contois 508-998-0280
59 1/2 So. Main St.
Acushnet, MA 02743

Rochester COA Katherine Church 508-763-8723
1 Constitution Way
Rochester, MA 02770
Dartmouth COA Nancy Pimental 508-999-4717
628 Dartmouth St.
So. Dartmouth, MA 02748

Marion COA Susan Schwager 508-748-3570
2 Spring St.
Marion, MA 02738

Wareham COA Diane Cunningham 508-291-3130
54 Marion Rd.
Wareham, MA 02571

Lakeville COA Marilyn Mansfield 508-947-3400
346 Bedford St.
Lakeville, MA 02347

Freetown COA Barbara Pennenga 508-763-9557
P.O. Box 438
Assonet, MA 02702

Westport COA Mary Ellen Gomes 508-636-1026
75 Reed Rd.
Westport, MA 02790



Community Nurse Assn. Jane Stankiewicz 508-992-6278
40 Center St.
Fairhaven, MA 02719

SouthCoast Hospice Susan Vincent 508-984-0270
28 Sconticut Neck Rd.
Fairhaven, MA 02719

SouthCoast Hospitals Group 508-984-0200
Home Care Services
28 Sconticut Neck Rd.
Fairhaven, MA 02719


Elderly Services

Widowed Persons Service Joan Yotides 508-999-3255
Widowed Persons Service of Greater New Bedford is an AARP program
co-sponsored by the Dartmouth Council on Aging. Coastline Elderly
Services, and the YWCA of Southeastern MA.

Massachusetts Commission for the Blind 508-993-6140
800 Purchase St.
New Bedford, MA 02740

Interchurch Council Carolyn Ogren 508-999-5240
Elderly Housing
790 Brock Ave.
New Bedford, MA 02744

Tripp Towers Kathy Tracy 508-997-4865
Elderly Housing
12 Ruth St.
New Bedford, MA 02744

Greater New Bedford 508-992-6553
Community Health Center
874 Purchase St.
New Bedford, MA 02740

New Bedford Women’s Center 508-996-3343
252 County St.
New Bedford, MA 02740
P.A.C.E. Lorraine Khazan 508-999-9920
People Acting in Community Endeavors
166 William St.
New Bedford, MA 02740

Coastline Elderly Services 508-999-6400
1646 Purchase St.
New Bedford, MA 02740

Project Independence 508-997-1441
250 Elm St.
New Bedford, MA 02740



When A Loved One Dies
Preparing yourself for the inevitable

Grief is a normal response to any loss and affects the grieving person physically, emotionally, and spiritually often causing the person to think and act in ways different from their previous "normal" behavior.

You may have heard something to the effect of "just give it time and you will eventually feel better. Time is necessary to the healing process, but it is only one aspect of effective grieving.

In addition to taking time, grief requires intentional "work" by the bereaved in order to achieve a healthy outcome from the process. Similar to someone taking action to seek medical help to set a broken leg so that it might heal properly, the bereaved must take action to move through grief.

The intentional "work" of grief can be summarized in five basic tasks, which involve specific behaviors (things to do to help yourself work through grief). These five basic tasks facing a bereaved person are:

  • Recognize and accept that your loved one has died and is unable to return.
  • Although this task may sound obvious, many bereaved have a difficult time accepting the reality of a loved one’s death and facing the harsh fact that the person is not coming back.
  • Experience all the emotions associated with the death of your loved one.
  • Rather than attempting to suppress emotions only to have them come to expression later in more detrimental ways, a bereaved person achieves a healthier state more quickly by giving full expression to all the emotions they are experiencing (as long as they do not express themselves in destructive ways).
  • Identify, summarize, and find a place to store memories of the deceased person which will honor the memories of that person and make room for the bereaved to eventually move on to a new volume in their life. Resolution of grief never means forgetting the loved one. Memories are precious possessions, but appropriate memories do not control our emotions on a daily basis. We are free to live life fully again in the present and remember the deceased when we chose to.
  • Identify who you are now, independent of your prior connection with the deceased person. Basically we are all individuals – that is how we were born and that is how we die. In order to truly live a full and complete life, especially following the death of a loved one, we must once again (re)discover who we are individually and independent of the relationship we had with the deceased.
  • Reinvest in life as an individual without the deceased person. We must learn to accept that all of life is marked by change. Each day calls for a new form of investment. A bereaved person has experienced a deep trauma, but eventually this can be seen as an opportunity to "begin again" in a new and fresh way.

The grieving process usually takes at least one year in order to experience all the "firsts". The grief process may take as long as two or three years, but the intensity of the emotional pain should decrease during that period of time. It is important not to make important decisions too quickly because you will feel differently about things as you move through the grief process.

A sudden or unexpected death may cause significant initial shock or numbness and may also lengthen the grieving process.

Knowing in some way that a person is going to die (anticipating the death) does not reduce the intensity of the grief or pain. Anticipating the death may help motivate you to engage in some planning (e.g., concerning financial, funeral, and relationships matters) which might make the grief process less cumbersome.

The grieving process is also affected by many other factors, including the personalities of the people involved, the type of relationship someone had with the deceased, and the present circumstances of one s life (e.g., age, family structures, finances, health, employment, children, etc.).

A person can "resolve" their grief and move again into a happy, healthy and satisfying life. "Resolution" means that the emotional pain of the death no longer controls your day to day activities and that you are once again able to develop a perspective on your life which is positive and future-oriented. Moments may arise which trigger a temporary emotional response to the death in the same way that emotions are associated with other past events in our lives, but resolved grief means that you have been able to (re)construct a new "normal" lifestyle which is fulfilling and purposeful without holding on to the deceased person.

©Susan J. Zonnebelt-Smeenge and Robert C. DeVries, 2000. Authors of Getting to the Other Side of Grief: Overcoming the Loss of a Spouse (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company, 1998) ISBN: 0-8010-5821-X




Hawthorn Florist & Gift Shop - 87 Dartmouth St, New Bedford, MA - 508-996-4118

Garlington Florist Inc - 359 Rockdale Ave, New Bedford, MA - 508-994-9148

Treeland Florists & Greenhouses - 46 Rockdale Ave, New Bedford, MA - 508-993-4949

Bud's Flowers - 141 Field St, New Bedford, MA - 508-999-4227

Sowle the Florist - 249 Ashley Blvd, New Bedford, MA - 508-997-7866

Mendonca's Florist Shop - 1364 Acushnet Ave, New Bedford, MA - 508-993-7800

This & That - 772 Purchase St, New Bedford, MA - 508-717-0577

Potting Bench - 861 Ashley Blvd, New Bedford, MA - 508-998-5252

Abracadabra Flower & Gift Service - 1701 Acushnet Ave, New Bedford, MA - 508-991-2111

Acushnet Flower Shop - 132 S Main St, Acushnet, MA - 508-998-8600

Friendly Florist Inc - 3913 Acushnet Ave, New Bedford, MA - 508-997-4528

Edible Arrangements - 85 Faunce Corner Rd, North Dartmouth, MA - 508-858-5450

Torres Plants & Flowers Inc - 181 Fisher Rd, Westport, MA - 508-636-2866

The Flower House - 2157 Acushnet Ave, New Bedford, MA - 508-206-1925

Cahoon's Florist - 388 Old Bedford Rd, Westport, MA - 508-673-6482

Erickson's Florist Garden Center - 609 Old County Rd, Westport, MA - 508-636-5990

In-Bloom Florist - 40 Harvest Avenue, North Dartmouth, MA - 774-644-6962


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