Guide to Planning a Veteran's Funeral

Guide to Planning a Veteran's Funeral

When preparing the funeral or memorial service for a veteran, it's essential to find a fitting way to honour their significant military dedication. For many Australian armed forces veterans, their service represents a crucial aspect of their life. Whether the service is religious or secular, it can be personalised with thoughtful touches to make it deeply meaningful.

Here are some recommendations for arranging a veteran's funeral that pays tribute to their life and acknowledges their commitment to the Australian military.
Veteran Funeral Benefits
First and foremost, families should determine if they qualify for funeral assistance under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 (MRCA). In many cases, a one-time veteran funeral benefit of up to $2,000 is available to help with burial or cremation costs, and sometimes transportation expenses. The Department of Veterans Affairs website provides detailed eligibility information and the claims process. This benefit eases the financial burden on families during the planning stages.

Families interested in organising an annual remembrance celebration or a memorial event may qualify for up to $250 to cover expenses related to floral and non-floral tributes. In addition to funeral benefits for veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs may offer assistance in the form of pensions for war widowed partners and various financial provisions.

Personalising a Memorial with War Memorabilia
Personalising the memorial for a veteran depends on their unique life. Incorporating military elements can enhance the significance of a veteran's funeral. Consider displaying war medals, photos from their time in service, and personal mementos like military attire. Wearing poppies or sprigs of rosemary can serve as symbols of remembrance. Draping a flag over the casket, whether the Australian national flag or a branch-specific flag, is a poignant gesture.

RSL Poppy Service
Families can request an RSL representative to conduct a Poppy Service within the veteran's funeral. This service includes presenting the veteran's military service record, reciting The Ode, playing The Last Post and Rouse, and providing poppies. The RSL representative is the first to place a poppy on the casket, followed by an invitation for family and mourners to do the same.

Consider inviting service members or veterans from the community to serve as pallbearers. Supporting fellow veterans as pallbearers is a meaningful gesture of camaraderie and closure.

The Last Post
Instead of traditional funeral songs, playing martial or patriotic songs can be fitting. The Last Post, originally a bugle call, holds a distinct meaning at funerals and commemorative services. Arrange for a live bugler if possible.

Requesting a Memorial Plaque
Many veterans are entitled to an official post-war commemoration at a cemetery or crematorium. The Office of Australian War Graves (OAWG) provides bronze plaques for eligible veterans. The plaques include essential details and are placed in cemeteries or crematoriums.

Memorial Donations
Consider setting up a charitable memorial in honour of your loved one, continuing their legacy of service. Reach out to local RSL clubs or veterans' support organisations to explore donation options in lieu of floral tributes. This contributes to the betterment of the community while honouring the veteran's commitment.
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