Post Suicide Guide
Information you need to navigate the hours and days after a Veteran suicide.
What to Do After a Veteran Suicide – Updated 7/21/2021
Many of the families we talk to say that the suicide quickly becomes the least of their problems. They are right. Our guide will set expectations for what’s to come and help you find your way through these dark days to better ones ahead.
- Once you’ve discovered a suicide, call the police or 911.
- Tell the coroner or medical examiner that he or she was a Veteran who suffered from PTSD.
- Request that the body be held at the county/city morgue until you figure out your next move. They can and will hold a body for up to 2 months.
- Contact your Veterans Administration Service Officer – benefits are better if your Veteran was connected to a VA
Don’t Rush to a Funeral Home – Coroners or Medical Examiners will hold the body for up to 2 months. Get over the initial shock and take your time if there’s no plan that seems good. Once you pick a funeral home and whether to cremate or not, you’re locked into their service or pay a large transfer fee. Average burial even with VA support is $6,000 to $14,000.
Life Insurance Payouts – Most funeral homes will offer to act as a holding/transfer agent for you with the insurance company. They will subtract their fees for your service out of your money. Ask if they charge for that. Don’t like their answer? Contact your agent directly. Their response times can vary significantly.
Biohazard Clean Up – Homeowners insurance may be able to pay or repay the biohazard clean up costs. Landlords or management companies may also have this insurance.
Funeral Homes – Can be helpful, but they are in business to make as much money as possible no matter the circumstances. They should be able to connect with a crematorium if they don’t have one on-site or locally. Many don’t offer that service on-site. They’re also cash and carry – some won’t let you see your loved one until their bill is paid-in-full. It is expensive to move the body from one funeral home to another, even if it is just across town.
Direct Cremations – “A direct cremation all included” is exactly what you should ask for. National average costs range from $800 – $1,500. It is the most affordable service with ashes delivered in one or more urns. You can buy urns online and save money, too.
Sometimes the county can provide a cremation. Ask.
Veterans Administration Benefit Information
You can also apply:
Apply by mail using an Application for Burial Benefits (VA Form 21P-530).
Download VA Form 21P-530 (PDF)
Mail the application and other documents listed above to your nearest VA regional office.
Find your nearest VA regional office
NAMI – This is a nationwide mental health non-profit that offers free virtual sessions and more. All are different but free services are common to all.
County Social Services – Every county in America has a social services office. Call them. They often can help with reasonable funerals and mental health options.
Local Military Nonprofits – Start with the branch related to your Veteran served.
Local Faith-Based Outreach Groups – they can offer financial or emotional support.
They grant modest financial aid like us, and they focus on children’s needs, so reaching out to them if you have kids may turn out good. Check out their website and you want to talk to Tom Deierlein – Co-Founder.
The Military Aid Society offers grants and loans interest free to retired Veterans. There are two main MASs.
Army Emergency Relief (AER)
7117 Baltzell Ave.
Ft. Benning, GA
(706) 545-3530 office
(706) 593-8955 mobile
Contact: Lionel Grant – Military Aid Society
Find the VFW Near You for Help With VA Claims & Separation Benefits
Navy and Marines Relief Society
There is an equivalent and that information is coming soon. Until then, please reach out to Lionel Grant at Ft. Benning above, or call Craig Bennett below.
VA Service Officer
Craig has many answers about what you’re entitled to and has shown a real desire to care for each family.
Go Fund Me – Consider starting a Go Fund Me page. Other families have had success here. Hit or miss but definitely worth the time invested.
Mental Health Support
Your emotional healing may never be complete, but on our site we offer free and drug-free ways to clear your mind and find some peace. Here are some links below to get you started and feel free to roam our blog and the rest of our site for anything that may help.
National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI) – This is a nationwide mental health non-profit that offers free virtual sessions and more. All are different but free services are common to all.
David Lynch Foundation Resilient Warrior Program for learning Transcendental Meditation. 4 in-person lessons. They are currently re-activating this program during the pandemic.
TAPS.ORG – they are the largest in the nation and it may take a while to hear back from them.
The WATCH Program at 22 Kill – this is a newer program that is similar to Taps’ networking opportunities.
Lift the Burden of Veteran Suicide
Your $20 gift helps pay off the family’s funeral bills. Not all families need help. Ours do.
ABOUT ONCE A SOLDIER
Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will.
Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans.
We are the only nonprofit standing with the families after a veteran suicide. Stand with us.
Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.