In recognition of the contributions patriotic men and women have made to serve their country, we want to share the National Cemetery Administration Services resources outlined by The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). We express our gratitude for the service your loved one gave.
Who is Eligible?
- Veterans discharged from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable.
- A Servicemember who died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty for training.
- Spouses and dependent children of Veterans.
- Active-duty Servicemembers
- With certain exceptions, active-duty service beginning after September 7, 1980, as an enlisted person, and after October 16, 1981, as an officer, must be for a minimum of 24 consecutive months or the full period of active duty (as in the case of reservists or National Guard members called to active duty for a limited duration).
- Active duty for training, by itself, while serving in the Reserves or National Guard, is not sufficient to confer eligibility. Reservists and National Guard members, as well as their spouses and dependent children, are eligible if they were entitled to retired pay at the time of death; or would have been upon reaching requisite age.
- Under Section 2411 of Title 38 United States Code, certain otherwise eligible individuals found to have committed Federal or state capital crimes or certain sex offenses are barred from burial or memorialization in a VA national cemetery and from receipt of a Government-furnished headstone, marker, medallion, burial flag, and Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC).
VA’s National Cemetery Scheduling Office or local national cemetery directors verify eligibility for burial. A copy of the Veterans discharge document that specifies the period(s) of active duty and character of discharge is usually sufficient to determine eligibility. In some instances, a copy of the deceased’s death certificate and proof of relationship to the Veteran (for eligible family members) may be required.
Determining Pre-Need Eligibility
VA implemented the pre-need burial eligibility determination program to assist anyone who would like to know if they are eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery. Upon request, VA will make eligibility determinations so that Veterans, spouses and unmarried dependent adult children may better prepare for burial in a VA national cemetery prior to the time of need.
Appealing an Eligibility Decision
Veterans and other claimants for VA benefits have the right to appeal decisions made by VA regarding eligibility for national cemetery burial or other memorial benefits.
Burial in VA National Cemeteries
Burial in a VA national cemetery is available for eligible Veterans, their spouses and their dependents at no cost to the family. It includes the following:
- Opening and closing of the grave
- Perpetual care
- Headstone or marker
For Veterans, benefits also include:
- Burial flag – case provided by the Department of Defense (DoD) for active-duty
- Military Funeral Honors
- Presidential Memorial Certificates (PMCs)if requested by family members and other loved ones of deceased Veterans.
VA operates 137 national cemeteries, some of which are open for new casketed interments, some to cremated remains only and some closed to new interments. Burial options are limited to those available at a specific cemetery but may include in ground or in a scatter garden. To determine if a particular cemetery is open for new burials, and which other options are available, contact the national cemetery directly, or go to: www.cem.va.gov. The funeral director or the next of kin makes interment arrangements by contacting the National Cemetery Scheduling Office or the national cemetery where burial is desired.
- VA normally does not conduct burials on weekends.
- Grave sites cannot be reserved; however, VA will honor reservations made under previous programs.
Headstones and Markers
- Veterans and active-duty Servicemembers and retired Reservists and National Guard Servicemembers are eligible for an inscribed headstone or marker for their grave at any national, state, Veteran’s or private cemetery.
- VA will deliver a headstone, marker or medallion at no cost anywhere in the world for the unmarked grave of any deceased Veteran. For eligible Veterans whose deaths occurred on or after November 1, 1990, VA may provide a Government headstone or marker even if the grave is already marked with a private one.
- Spouses and dependent children are eligible for a Government headstone or marker only if they are buried in a national, military post/base or state Veterans’ cemetery.
- Burial in a national cemetery includes the headstone or marker. When more than one family member is interred in the same gravesite, both sides of the upright headstone are used.
- If a Veteran is buried in a private cemetery, anywhere in the world, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a headstone or marker.
- If the burial is not in a Veterans cemetery, the funeral home director usually orders the headstone or marker for the Veteran’s family.
- Flat markers are available in bronze, granite or marble. Upright headstones come in granite or marble. In national cemeteries, style chosen will be consistent with existing monuments at the place of burials. Bronze niche markers are available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains.
- Headstones and markers previously provided by the Government may be replaced at the Government’s expense if badly deteriorated, illegible, vandalized or stolen.
- To check the status of a claim for a headstone or marker for a national or state Veterans’ cemetery, call the cemetery. For the status of one being placed in a private cemetery, call: 800-697-6947.
Government-furnished headstones and markers must be inscribed with: •
- Name of the deceased
- Branch of service
- Year of birth
- Year of death
Other optional information may include, space permitting:
- An authorized emblem of belief
- Additional text including military rank
- War service (such as World War II)
- Military awards
- Complete dates of birth and death
- Military organizations
- Civilian or Veteran affiliations
- Personal words of endearment.
To Submit a Claim for a Headstone or Marker
- Complete VA Form 40-1330, Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker available at www.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA40-1330.pdf.
- Include a copy of the Veteran’s military discharge document.
- Mail to: Memorial Programs Service (41B)Department of Veterans Affairs 5109 Russell Road Quantico, VA 22134-3903
- Fax toll-free to: 800-455-7143.
“In Memory of” Markers
VA provides memorial headstones and markers with “IN MEMORY OF” as the first line of inscription, to memorialize remains that are not recovered or identified, buried at sea, donated to science or whose cremated remains have been scattered.
Eligibility is the same as for regular headstones and markers.
Medallions in Lieu of Government Headstone/Marker
Public Law 110-157, enacted December 26, 2007, expanded VA authority to provide a medallion instead of a headstone or marker for Veterans’ graves in private cemeteries when the grave is already marked with a privately-purchased headstone or marker.
Claimants can apply for either a traditional headstone or marker to place on the grave, or a medallion to affix to a privately-purchased headstone or marker.
To Submit a Claim for a Medallion
- Complete VA Form 40-1330M, Claim for Government Medallion for Placement in a Private Cemetery, available at www.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA40-1330m.pdf.
- Include a copy of the Veteran’s military discharge document.
- Mail to: Memorial Programs Service (41B),Department of Veterans Affairs, 5109 Russell Road, Quantico, VA 22134-3903
- Fax toll-free to: 800-455-7143.
Presidential Memorial Certificates (PMC)
A Presidential Memorial Certificate is available upon request to recognize the military service of honorably discharged deceased Veterans.
Next of kin, other relatives and other loved ones may apply for a certificate by completing and signing VA Form 40-0247, in addition to sending a copy of the Veteran’s military discharge documents or proof of honorable military service.
The form is available at https://www.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA40-0247.pdf.
Submit Your Request
A request may be submitted in person at any VA regional office.
- Mail to: Presidential Memorial Certificates (41B3) Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration 5109 Russell Road Quantico, VA 22134-3903
- Fax toll-free to: 800-455-7143.
VA will provide a United States flag to drape on a casket (or coffin) or place with an urn in honor of the military service of Veterans who have one of the following:
- Served in wartime
- Died while serving on active duty after May 27, 1941
- Served in peacetime and left military service before June 27, 1950, after serving at least 1 enlistment, or because of a disability that was caused—or made worse—by their active military service
- Served in the Selected Reserves (in certain cases), or served in the military forces of the Philippines while in the service of the United States and died on or after April 25, 1951
- Served after January 31, 1955.
How to Obtain a Burial Flag
Fill out VA Form 27-2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes, available at https://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-27-2008-ARE.pdf. Bring the application form to a funeral director, VA regional office, or a United States Post Office.
Military Funeral Honors
A military funeral honors detail consists of two or more uniformed members of the Armed Forces, with at least one member from the deceased’s parent service of the Armed Forces.
- Family members should inform their funeral director if they want military funeral honors.
- Upon the family’s request, DoD will provide military funeral honors, which include the playing of “Taps,” the flag folding and the presentation of the flag.
- Veterans Service Organizations or volunteer groups may help provide military funeral honors.
- VA can help arrange military funeral honors for burials at VA national cemeteries.
VA Vet Centers provide services to all family members including spouses, children, parents and siblings of Servicemembers who died while on active duty. This includes Federally activated members of the National Guard and reserve components. Bereavement services may be accessed by calling (202) 461-6530.
Veterans Health Administration Medical Centers can provide bereavement counseling to immediate family members of Veterans who died unexpectedly or while participating in a VA hospice or similar program.
In other cases
Bereavement counseling is available to the Veteran’s legal guardian or the individual with whom the Veteran had certified an intention to live.
- They can receive counseling services as long as the guardian or individual had been receiving covered family support services.
- This counseling may only be authorized up to 60 days. However, VA medical center directors have the authority to approve a longer period of time when medically indicated.
VA burial allowances are flat-rate monetary benefits that are generally paid at the maximum amount authorized by law for an eligible Veteran’s burial and funeral costs. As of 2014, the eligible surviving spouse on record is paid automatically, without having to submit a claim.
If the burial allowance has not been automatically paid to the surviving spouse, VA will pay the first living person to file a claim including:
- The Veteran’s surviving spouse.
- The survivor of a legal union between the deceased Veteran and the Survivor.
- The Veteran’s children, regardless of age.
- The Veteran’s parent(s).
- The executor or administrator of the Veteran’s estate.
The Veteran must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, and one of the following conditions must be met.
- Died as the result of a service-connected disability.
- Was receiving or entitled to receive VA pension or compensation at time of death.
- Died while hospitalized by VA or while receiving care under VA contract.
- Died while traveling under proper authorization and at VA expense to receive treatment.
- Had an original or reopened claim for VA compensation or pension pending and would have been entitled to benefits from a date prior to the death date.
- Died on or after October 9, 1996, while a patient at a VA-approved state nursing home.
VA may grant additional benefits, including plot or interment allowance and transportation allowance, if it receives a claim for these benefits.
How Much Does VA Pay?
The amounts of the VA burial and plot allowances vary depending on the circumstances. (Amounts listed are for deaths occurring on or after October 1, 2019.)
- Maximum burial allowance: $2,000
- Burial allowance: $300; if hospitalized by VA: $796
- Plot allowance: $796
Veterans Cemeteries Administered by Other Agencies
Arlington National Cemetery
Administered by the Department of the Army. Eligibility is more restrictive than at VA national cemeteries.
Department of the Interior
Administered by the Department of the Interior’s National Park Service. Eligibility is similar to VA national cemeteries. The two open cemeteries are:
- Andersonville National Cemetery, Andersonville, Georgia
- Andrew Johnson National Cemetery, Greeneville, Tennessee.
State Veterans Cemeteries
State Veterans cemeteries offer burial options for Veterans and their families. These cemeteries have similar eligibility requirements to VA national cemeteries, but may include state residency requirements.
- Some services, particularly for family members, may require a fee.
- Contact the specific State Cemetery or State VA office for information.
If you have any questions about National Cemetery Administration (NCA) Services, contact us today at At Home Senior Services. We are happy to help!