The Canadian government recognizes the sacrifice that veterans make when they enlist for service. As such, there is a veterans' funeral benefits program in place to ease the burden of bereavement for the service personnel when they die. Read on for more information on the eligibility of members, the different benefits available, and who else can benefit from this program.
Veterans Funeral Benefit Program
The program provides funeral assistance when veterans lose their lives during service. The Last Post Fund is the organization that is responsible for this program. The mandate of the Last Post Fund is to provide burial and grave marking services to all Canadian and allied veterans. Below are some of the benefits of the program.
Canadian Military Funeral and Burial Program
This program’s mission is to ensure all eligible veterans get dignified funeral services. The Last Post Fund is in charge of administering this program on behalf of Veterans Affairs Canada. Veterans do not qualify for the benefits of this program automatically, they have to meet certain criteria for them to enjoy decent send-offs. The criteria that veterans need to meet include:
The Service Criterion
The criterion recognizes only those who underwent basic training successfully and had honourable discharges as veterans. This is a service requirement that people need to fulfill before they are eligible for bereavement benefits. People who served in the Second World War as allied force members also get recognition for their effort. They qualify for the funeral and burial benefits. The criterion recognizes Canadian Merchant Veterans of WWII or Korean War as eligible members for the benefits.
Veterans must meet the service criterion first before they qualify for the financial criterion. The latter establishes eligibility for burial benefits in two ways. These are the financial means testing and the as a matter of right criterion. The financial means determines whether there is a financial need to extend benefits to cater for the funeral expenses of the veteran. The test assesses the veteran’s estate which includes the number of dependents, the marital status and the net assets. A veteran qualifies if their net estate cannot offset the existing liabilities which include the funeral and burial expenses.
The Veteran Affairs Canada has the sole responsibility of conducting the as a matter of right for determining eligibility. A medical authority determines if the death resulted from military service for which Veterans Affairs Canada had provided a disability benefit. If this is the case, the veteran will get funeral and burial benefits without the need to undergo financial means-testing.
Unmarked Grave Program
The program provides a permanent marker for servicemen lying in unmarked graves. It is available for servicemen who have lacked a permanent headstone for more than five years. The veterans shouldn't have received any burial benefits during this period. A veteran must satisfy the criteria below to be eligible:
- Proof of Service: The proof of service are military records showing the rank and unit in which the deceased served.
- Proof of death: This can be a document that shows the date of death. These documents can either be an obituary, a remembrance card or a death certificate from a funeral home/ government institution.
Eligibility for Spouses and Dependents of Veterans for Free Burial
Canada recognizes that bereavement is tough on the spouses and children of veterans. It is part of the reason that the state extends veteran burial benefits to the servicemen and their families at large. However, these benefits only cover servicemen who meet the service criteria. The funeral and burial assistance covers the following expenses:
- Medical costs relating to the deceased’s last sickness provided the costs are not covered by the health care plan.
- The costs of cremation
- Opening and closing costs of the grave in addition to the cost of caring for the grave perpetually.
- Military-styled grave markers.
- Funeral services such as ceremonial services, the casket and preparation of remains.
Veteran Funeral Benefits
The Veterans Burial Regulations established the veterans benefits program. This program assists eligible servicemen to get a decent send-off after their death in service. Veterans have to meet certain criteria before they can be eligible for the benefits.
The benefits are strictly for those soldiers that served. They don’t extend to spouses and family members. If you qualify for the assistance program, apply here.