Women vets: there is one VA benefit that you aren’t using

Jonathan Kaupanger
March 15, 2018 - 12:57 pm

Laura Farr/AdMedia Photo

Women veterans are missing out on a huge benefit at VA.  “I know that it’s not something that most people want to talk about,” says Kayla M. Williams, director of VA’s Center for Women Veterans. “But it’s the one thing that is absolutely inevitable for all of us.”

And she’s not talking about taxes.

According to Williams, Burial and Memorial Benefits are the one area at VA that women veterans are underutilizing. She believes that this is mainly because women veterans don’t fully understand about the totality of their benefits.

“My guess, though I don’t have data on this, but my guess is that women veterans don’t know their spouse could be eligible to be buried in a National Cemetery,” said Williams.  “And since we live longer than men, if our husband predeceases us and we have them buried in a community cemetery, then we want to be buried with our spouses.”

Most women vets don’t realize that even if they are in a dual military or dual veteran marriage, they can choose between a shared or separate gravesite. Minor children and adult children who are disabled could also be eligible for burial in National Cemeteries too. 

Many of the reasons why we don’t want to talk about what happens after we die are exactly why we should have this conversation now.  Some people don’t feel prepared to die, not just because they want to live, but also because of difficulties like how family members will deal with the death financially. It’s unsettling to even think about mortality and the idea of the discussion may traumatize loved ones too.

The VA has thought about this for us and came up with the Pre-Need Burial Eligibility Determination. This is a way for you to know that you’ve communicated your wishes to your family and make it easier for them to deal with things when the unavoidable time comes.

“Knowing that you’ve communicated your wishes to your families, so it’s easier for them, when you do pass, that your preferences are known,” explains Williams. To start this process, Williams suggests that all women veterans go to the National Cemetery Administration website fill out the pre-needs form so VA can confirm that you are eligible for this benefit. 

You’ll get a certificate that you can keep in your files once you are approved. “So when it’s a time of need,” continues Williams, “your family members have that handy, and it’s easier for them to get the burial scheduled. Everything is preassembled.”