Burial benefits available include a gravesite in any of the 150 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
Veterans and those who die on active duty are eligible for burial in one of VA’s 150 national cemeteries. An eligible veteran must have been discharged or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable and have completed the required period of service. A U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in a war also may be eligible.
Spouses and dependent, minor children of eligible veterans and service members may also be buried in a national cemetery.
A surviving spouse who remarried on or after Oct. 31, 1990 is not eligible for burial in a national cemetery. There are other rules for surviving spouses who remarried before that date, check with the VA for details.
Requesting Burial In A National Cemetery
Burial in a national cemetery is based on military service. A copy of an official military discharge document bearing an official seal or other supporting documentation is usually sufficient to determine eligibility for burial.
The VA now allows veterans to find out their eligibility for burial in a VA National Cemetery prior to the time of need. The VA calls this “pre-need determination”. To apply, complete and submit to the VA a VA Form 40-10007. This greatly reduces stress on surviving family members. Applicants may indicate a preference for a VA national cemetery on the application form, but a pre-need determination of eligibility does not guarantee burial in a specific VA national cemetery or a specific gravesite. VA assigns gravesites in cemeteries with available space once death has occurred and the burial is scheduled.
At the time of need, the next-of-kin, funeral home or other representative responsible for making final arrangements should contact the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 800-535-1117 to request burial.
If the veteran didn’t complete a “pre-need determination” request prior to death, survivors or funeral directors can request burial in a National Cemetery by faxing eligibility documentation to 866-900-6417 or scanning and emailing the information to NCA.Scheduling@va.gov, survivors or funeral directors can also call the VA at 800-535-1117.
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery, which is under the jurisdiction of the Army, has a more limited eligibility than other national cemeteries. Eligibility for inurnment of cremated remains in Arlington’s columbarium is the same as eligibility for burial in VA national cemeteries. For information on Arlington burials, write to Superintendent, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA 22211, or telephone 877-907-8585.
Interior Department, Tribal and State Veteran Cemeteries
Eligibility criteria similar to VA national cemetery eligibility apply to the two active national cemeteries administered by the Department of the Interior: Andersonville National Cemetery in Georgia and Andrew Johnson National Cemetery in Tennessee. Cemeteries for veterans are operated by many sovereign tribal nations, states and territories. See our State Veteran’s Benefits page for more information about specific state veteran’s cemeteries.
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