To be eligible for benefits you must be a veteran discharged or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable, and have completed the required period of service. Members of the U.S. Armed Forces who die on active duty are also eligible, as are spouses and dependent children of eligible living and deceased veterans, and of current and deceased armed forces members. Contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at (800) 827-1000 for more information.
For Burial in a National Cemetery:
Available burial benefits include a gravesite in any of our 131 national cemeteries with available space, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a Government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Some Veterans may also be eligible for Burial Allowances. Cremated remains are buried or inurned in national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains.
Eligibility for Burial in a National Cemetery:
Veteran’s eligibility for burial in a National Cemetery will be determined by The National Cemetery Scheduling Office. Examples of person’s who may be eligible typically include Veterans and Active Members of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard) who die on active duty or who were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. Visit www.cem.va.gov for a complete and thorough explanation of eligibility.
Burial benefits available for spouses and dependents buried in a national cemetery include burial with the Veteran, perpetual care, and the spouse or dependents name and date of birth and death will be inscribed on the Veteran’s headstone, at no cost to the family. Eligible spouses and dependents may be buried, even if they predecease the Veteran.
Gravesites in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemeteries cannot be reserved in advance. You should advise your family of your wishes and of where your discharge papers can be found. These papers are very important in establishing your eligibility.
For Burial in a Private Cemetery:
Burial benefits available for Veterans buried in a private cemetery include a Government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Some Veterans may also be eligible for Burial Allowances. There are no benefits available to spouses and dependents buried in a private cemetery.
Military Discharge Documents
DD Form 256 or DD Form 257, only if active duty service dates are indicated, and NGB Form 22, if it indicates prior active service, may be used to establish honorable active membership. If your discharge documents have been lost or destroyed visit http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/ to request a replacement copy. Again, these documents are very important and you cannot claim the Veteran’s burial or memorial benefits you earned without them.
Why Does VA Provide a Burial Flag? A United States flag is provided, at no cost, to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased Veteran who served honorably in the U. S. Armed Forces. It is furnished to honor the memory of a Veteran’s military service to his or her country.
Who Is Eligible to Receive the Burial Flag? Generally, the flag is given to the next-of-kin, as a keepsake, after its use during the funeral service. When there is no next-of-kin, VA will furnish the flag to a friend making request for it. For those VA national cemeteries with an Avenue of Flags, families of Veterans buried in these national cemeteries may donate the burial flags of their loved ones to be flown on patriotic holidays.
Headstones and Markers - General Information
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a Government headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible Veteran in any cemetery around the world, regardless of their date of death. For eligible veterans that died on or after Nov. 1, 1990 and whose grave is marked with a privately purchased headstone, VA may also furnish a headstone or marker to supplement the graves or a Medallion to be affixed to the privately purchased headstone. Flat markers in granite, marble, and bronze and upright headstones in granite and marble are available. Bronze niche markers are also available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains.
When burial or memorialization is in a national cemetery, state veterans' cemetery, or military post/base cemetery, a headstone or marker will be ordered by the cemetery officials based on inscription information provided by the next of kin or authorized representative. Spouses and dependents are not eligible for a Government-furnished headstone or marker unless they are buried in a national cemetery, state veteran's cemetery, or military post/base cemetery.
*Note - There is no charge for the headstone or marker itself, however arrangements for placing it in a private cemetery are the applicant's responsibility and all setting fees are at private expense.
Military Funeral Honors
The Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for providing military funeral honors. "Honoring Those Who Served” is the title of the DOD program for providing dignified military funeral honors to Veterans who have defended our nation. Funeral Honor’s are to include folding and presenting the United States burial flag and the playing of Taps. The military funeral honors detail consists of two or more uniformed military persons, with at least one being a member of the Veteran's parent service of the armed forces. To arrange military funeral honors, contact your local funeral home. The military funeral honors Web site is located at www.militaryfuneralhonors.osd.mil.
Presidential Memorial Certificates
A Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC) is an engraved paper certificate, signed by the current President, to honor the memory of honorably discharged deceased Veterans. This program was initiated in March 1962 by President John F. Kennedy and has been continued by all subsequent Presidents. Statutory authority for the program is Section 112, Title 38, of the United States Code.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the PMC program by preparing the certificates which bear the current President’s signature expressing the country’s grateful recognition of the Veteran’s service in the United States Armed Forces. Eligible recipients include the next of kin and loved ones of honorably discharged deceased Veterans. More than one certificate may be provided.
For more information about the above benefits please visit www.cem.va.gov.
VA Burial Allowance
VA burial allowances are partial reimbursements of an eligible veteran’s burial and funeral costs. When the cause of death is not service related, the reimbursements are generally described as two payments: (1) a burial and funeral expense allowance, and (2) a plot or interment allowance.
Allowance Amounts for Service Related Deaths:
VA will pay up to $2,000 towards burial expensed for deaths on or after September 11, 2011. VA will pay up to $1,500 for deaths prior to September 10, 2001. If the veteran is buried in a VA National Cemetery, some or all of the cost of transporting the deceased may be reimbursed.
Disclaimer: This information is here to help you gain an understanding of the possible benefits available to military veterans along with contact information so that you may get more details. It is NOT meant to imply or determine eligibility. Only authorized VA personnel can determine eligibility for Veteran’s memorial or burial benefits.