The death of current or former service personnel, whether on active service or not, may involve special procedures and under certain circumstances will entitle the deceased to a military funeral.
When we think of these, we usually think of the special military funerals that may take place to honour members of the armed forces who died on active service, prominent military figures or heads of state (recent military funerals for service personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, or historical events such as the military burial of Winston Churchill in 1965 come to mind). A military funeral typically includes various martial elements such as a flag-draped coffin, the firing of volleys or the playing of the Last Post.
UK benefits for veterans
For anyone who has served in the armed forces, it may be possible to obtain assistance with funeral arrangements. In particular, it may be possible to get help from the UK?s Service Personnel and Veterans Agency (SPVA), the Ministry of Defence (MOD) organisation aimed at improving personnel, pensions, welfare and support services to members of the Armed Forces and veterans. The SPVA, launched in 2007, covers all sorts of support and welfare issues, including veterans benefits.
The Service Personnel and Veterans Agency
Telephone: 0800 169 34 58 (UK only)
Telephone: 44 1253 866043 (Overseas)
Support from the SPVA
Depending upon individual circumstances, the SPVA may be able to help with funeral expenses for a simple funeral (but not a full military funeral) in the UK if any of the following apply (the claim must be made within three months of death):
If war veterans require help with funeral expenses, a claim must be made on a War Disablement Pension WPA 0010 Funeral Expenses Claim Form, which is obtainable from the SPVA.
Other resources for the families of UK armed forces personnel
As well as its involvement with veteran benefits, the SPVA also runs the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), the department primarily responsible for monitoring and actioning certain procedures for UK military personnel if they become notifiable casualties in the UK or overseas (and also for their dependents overseas). The JCCC, based at RAF Innsworth in Gloucestershire, is also responsible for authorising compassionate leave travel from overseas for service personnel, their overseas dependents, mobilised reservists and members of the Territorial Army (for instance, where next of kin have to travel to attend a funeral for military personnel). A third aspect of their valuable work involves research, including the use of military death records, that helps track down the relatives of military casualties from as long ago as the Second World War, and arranging suitable funerals.
Service Personnel and Veterans Agency
Telephone: 44 (0) 1452 519951
The JCCC is manned 24 hours a day 365 days a year.
Another useful resource, designed for members of the British Army, is the Army Welfare Information Service (AWIS), which gives information and advice to army families and single servicemen/women (whether in the regular or territorial army). For information on subjects as diverse as military death benefits or compassionate leave, this could be another useful point of contact for anyone requiring information on funerals for military personnel in the army.
For the Royal Air Force, the RAF Families Federation may be able to provide assistance. This organisation can be contacted at the following address.
The RAF Families Federation
13-15 St Georges Road
Telephone: 01780 781650