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A guide to veteran memorials at Better Place Forests

Memorial Day reminds us to recognize the sacrifices of those who have served in the armed forces to protect our freedom. It’s because of their service that we’re able to gather on the last Monday of May each year in remembrance. Many Americans celebrate Memorial Day by returning to the cemetery where their loved one is buried, but as beliefs around end-of-life shift, many are looking for a veteran burial alternative. We’re proud to accommodate military honors in each of our forests — while offering veterans 10% off their choice of any memorial tree.*  

Learn more about how we accommodate military honors in our forests below.

Veteran burial benefits

Most people believe that all veteran burial expenses are paid for and provided by the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs — but not everything qualifies. Veteran Affairs will pay for the standard veteran burial — a gravesite in a national ceremony, the headstone or marker, burial flag, and Presidential Memorial Certificate. For those looking to be laid to rest in a private cemetery or burial alternative, you can apply for a veteran burial allowance.

Read for more information about veteran burial benefits.

Celebrating a lifetime of service 

In 2016, Pamela G. attended one of the first Better Place Forests memorial ceremonies in our Point Arena forest. As a pastor herself, she spends much of her time preparing people for their passing and then honoring their legacies during their memorial ceremonies. This ceremony, however, was more personal because it was for her father-in-law. 

Pamela’s father-in-law, Bob, was a proud US Navy veteran who served as an engineer during World War II. 

“Being a veteran of the Navy was central to my father-in-law’s identity. Later in his life, he wore his Navy veteran hat often — a lot of his pictures have him in that ballcap,” said Pamela. 

“He and my mother-in-law met at the naval office in San Diego. It was during World War II, and she was a secretary there while he was serving.” 

After the war, and raising their children, Bob and his wife moved to the San Bernardino mountains where they found comfort living in a community surrounded by a forest. As the two got older, Bob developed dementia and found solace in his earlier days in the Navy.  

“As his dementia was getting worse, war era music was helpful and soothing to him, so we played it in a big loop because it was comforting to him,” said Pamela. “When his life had come to an end, it was important to incorporate all of that into the memorial because that was who he was.” 

Whether it be a veteran memorial or a religious ceremony, at Better Place Forests we work with you to create a unique memorial that speaks to your days on earth. For Bob, that meant a memorial that celebrated his time in the service and his connection to the land. During the service, his loved ones gathered around his tree wrapped in afghan blankets that his wife had made. 

Honoring veterans at Better Place Forests 

Military funeral honors are eligible for any veteran or active duty service member, at no cost, mandated by the law. These honors include the live playing of taps, and the presentation and folding of a flag. While military funeral honors are offered to all veterans, free of charge, the American flag used in the ceremony isn’t included and should be brought by the family. 

The actual military honors are brief — around 5 to 10 minutes — but a meaningful moment for the family of the deceased. On the day of Bob’s memorial service, Pamela’s family arrived in the forest shortly after the Navy servicemen — two color guards and a bugle player — who would perform the military honors. 

“The servicemen talked about the ritual of presenting the flag,” Pamela explains of the ceremony. “They unfolded the flag and then refolded it while the bugler played taps. It was different out there in the forest, as opposed to at a mortuary or any of the other places I'm used to that being done.” 

Surrounded by trees, the sounds of the bugle echoed through the forest canopy — a surreal experience for those mourning a loved one. This service was an important part of the grieving process for this family, and the American flag has continued to hold great significance for them—Pamela’s son has kept it as a way to remember his grandfather’s legacy.

“I was surprised that it was so important to our son to have that flag, but it was important to him to have that because that was such an important part of who his grandfather was,” said Pamela. 

We proudly offer veterans 10% off their choice of a memorial tree.*  

When you’re ready to begin making end-of-life plans, schedule a free online forest tour with one of our advisors. 

* This discount doesn’t stack with any other offers 


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