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What Happens When Military Personnel Die

Military funeral

When a military personnel member dies, whether while serving on active duty (AD), active duty for training (ADT), or initial duty training (IDT), their family typically becomes eligible for an assortment of federal benefits or entitlements. This honors their life and selfless service with the utmost respect. Following the death, families are assigned a Casualty Assistance Representative (CAR) to help them navigate the processes and answer any questions. Discover what federal privileges and benefits the government grants to family members and read on to learn more about what happens when military personnel die.

Monetary Compensation

This is one of the first things that happens when military personnel die. Their spouse and children receive various benefits, so long as the death was service-related. The spouse and children receive monetary benefits regardless of financial situation, while parents of the deceased only receive the benefits if their annual income falls under a certain amount.

CARs, the local Veterans Association, or the Social Security office can help determine how much monetary compensation you’re eligible for and how to acquire the proper forms.

Death Gratuity

For military members that die on AD, ADT, IDT, or full-time National Guard active duty, their families receive what’s known as a “death gratuity.” This gratuity is paid to various survivors of the deceased in a particular order. The order is as follows:

  • The CAR will deliver payment to the deceased’s spouse within 24 hours of the military member’s death unless the spouse declares otherwise.
  • If there is no spouse, the deceased’s children will receive the payment in equal shares. Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) configure payments for underage children.
  • If there is no spouse or children involved, payment may get distributed to siblings or parents. They will receive payment from the CAR within 24 hours of their family member’s passing.

If there are none of the above, the death gratuity will go to no one. To apply for this benefit, family members must file DD Form 397.

Funeral Services

It can be difficult to organize funeral arrangements when a loved one dies in service. If the deceased is eligible, their family can acquire a military funeral service. Check out this guide to a military funeral service to learn how to receive those services from the federal government.

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