Burial Benefits Available from the National Cemetery Administration
Requests for burial in a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemetery cannot be made via the Internet.
The VA does not make funeral arrangements or perform cremations. Families should make these arrangements with a funeral provider or cremation office. Any item or service obtained from a funeral home or cremation office will be at the families expense.
- For Burial in a National Cemetery
Burial benefits available 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.
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.
- 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 not any benefits available to spouses and dependents buried in a private cemetery.
If possible, the following information concerning the deceased should be provided when the cemetery is first contacted:
- Full name and military rank;
- Branch of service;
- Social security number;
- Service number;
- VA claim number, if applicable;
- Date and place of birth;
- Date and place of death;
- Date of retirement or last separation from active duty; and,
- Copy of any military separation document, such as the Department of Defense Form 214 (DD-214).
The discharge documents must specify active military duty and show that release from active duty was under other than dishonorable conditions.
Viewing facilities are not available and funeral services cannot be held at VA national cemeteries, but a final committal service may be performed. For safety reasons, these committal services are held in committal shelters located away from the gravesite. Burial will take place following the committal service.
Floral arrangements may accompany the casket or urn from the committal shelter and will be placed on the grave after burial.
A headstone or marker will be ordered by cemetery personnel upon inscription approval by the next of kin and a burial flag will be provided. Upright headstones are standard in most national cemeteries, however, some have both upright headstone and flat marker sections. Be sure to discuss these options with the cemetery director prior to burial.
The same procedures are followed if the veteran's eligible spouse or dependent predeceases the Veteran. In most cases, one gravesite is provided for the burial of all eligible family members and a single headstone or marker is provided. When both spouses are Veterans, two gravesites and two headstones or markers may be provided if requested.
The Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for providing Military Funeral Honors. The DOD program, "Honoring Those Who Served," calls for funeral directors to request military funeral honors on behalf of the Veterans' families. Veterans' organizations may assist in the provision of military funeral honors. In support of this program, VA national cemetery staff may assist to coordinate military funeral honors.Preparing in Advance
- For Burial in a VA National Cemetery Gravesites in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemeteries cannot be reserved in advance; however, reservations made prior to 1962 will be honored. Families are encouraged to prepare in advance by discussing cemetery options, collecting the Veteran's military information including discharge papers, and by contacting the cemetery where burial is desired.
- For Burial in a Private Cemetery
We suggest that if burial will be in a private cemetery and a Government headstone or marker will be requested for the Veteran's grave, that the family complete VA Form 40-1330, Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker for Installation in a Private or State Veterans' Cemetery, in advance and place it with the Veterans military discharge papers for use at the time of need.