Locate an essential form now, so your loved one can get honors they deserve
By Kathy Brummett, Coleman Funeral Home
If you have a veteran in your family, stop what you’re doing and ask them now: Where is your DD 214?
Every veteran knows exactly what that form is and almost certainly knows where they keep it — but family members often do not.
They also often don’t realize that they must be able to quickly locate that form in the event of their loved one’s death, in order to access honors and free benefits at the time of their funeral. By the time you go through the process of requesting a new form from the government, it will be too late.
DD Form 214 is your loved one’s Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty. It is the document that the U.S. Department of Defense gives to a military service member when they are discharged or retire.
When a veteran dies, the family and funeral home will need the veteran’s DD 214 in order to access the funeral benefits it guarantees. Those benefits include having a military honor guard present at the funeral, where they will ceremonially fold an American flag and present it to the family. The ceremony can also include the playing of “Taps,” and for some veterans with extended years of service, a rifle volley (commonly known as a 21-gun salute).
All of these honors are free for the family, in addition to a free grave marker and five death certificates. But the funeral home must have a copy of the DD 214 to facilitate these benefits with the Department of Defense.
In the event that a family cannot find the DD 214 but can locate their loved one’s honorable discharge papers, our funeral directors will still present an American flag to the family as part of the ceremony.
To make sure you will be able to receive all the benefits to which you are entitled, bring your DD 214 to the funeral home when you come to make any type of plans. The funeral home can scan your document and keep it on file.