Return to Special Initiatives Page



      I have researched and prepared an information sheet, "Essential Elements of Information (EEI) for Military Veterans and Next-of-Kin". It is a short document containing basic information for surviving spouses and/or next of kin with regard to funeral/interment and cremation/inurnment arrangements. It is designed to assist the surviving spouse and family members and guide them through those first few difficult days following the death of a spouse.


I did this because I think there is a need for this information in a clear, handy, easy-to-understand format at a time of great stress for our families. My goal was to prepare a useful, two-page document containing only the essential information. As you know, there is a myriad of details involved in arranging a funeral. References to additional, detailed information are included in the paper.  This document is designed to be 'first aid'-a listing of the names, addresses, and phone numbers of key people and organizations to contact for assistance in planning and arranging the funeral/inurnment of a military veteran or his spouse in a military cemetery.



 Considerable research and care has been invested in this document in order to meet three criteria: 

     + Brevity-one page, two sides 

     + Accuracy-the latest copy of each of the three sources referenced in the document was used to verify all the information including telephone numbers and services provided by each agency listed.  

     + Utility-the document was designed to encourage each of us to discuss, BEFOREHAND, our desires, plans, and wishes with regard to our own and our spouse's funeral with our spouse AND our next-of-kin. Two items on the form are left blank in order that each family may add specific information based on their own location & situation.


In addition to the documentation listed in the references, I made an appointment at the DeVol Funeral Home, Gaithersburg, MD. The associate director read over the draft and made several corrections and comments that are incorporated in the final document. He also emphasized that your local funeral director is prepared, no matter where you live, to advise and assist you with any and all aspects of a military funeral.


The DeVol representative made one other important point: burial at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors is seriously backlogged.  Families that desire ‘full military honors' for their deceased veteran member can expect delays up to several months.  Large numbers of WWII vets are requesting burial in Arlington. The limited number of Honor Guard Details at Arlington has taxed the capabilities there. Your funeral director should be consulted if burial or inurnment at Arlington without full military honors for the deceased veteran is acceptable and available without a long delay.  Again, 'full military honors' for either burial or inurnment at Arlington National Cemetery is the current problem and it is likely to get worse. The choice of any other Veterans cemetery or West Point is not currently affected by these type delays. (Still valid information)


 The information contained in the document has been vetted.  Six classmates and widowed spouses reviewed the draft and made comments, corrections and suggestions for improvement.  Their responses have been incorporated into the final version. That product is Part 2 of this message. It is being made available to all members of our Class of 1958 and their families.


Finally, no document can be a substitute for a frank and open discussion with our family members of our personal wishes and plans. The purpose of this effort is to provide each of us with a brief, accurate, and timely reference.  After discussing its content with your family, I recommend that it be kept in a safe location accessible to our surviving family members to assist them during those first few, difficult days. 


All the best,

Bill Serchak

 NOTE:  Click Here for the two-page checklist.  I strongly urge you print it out, fill in the blanks, and implement it as suggested above.