Eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery
Veterans, service members, and some family members may be eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery. Find out if you, or a person you’re planning a burial for, can get this benefit.
Who can be buried in a VA national cemetery?
Veterans, service members, spouses, and dependents may qualify for burial in a VA national cemetery, as well as other benefits, if they meet one of the requirements listed below.
One of these must be true. The person qualifying for burial benefits is:
- A Veteran who didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge, or
- A service member who died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty for training, or
- The spouse or minor child of a Veteran, even if the Veteran died first, or
- In some cases, the unmarried adult dependent child of a Veteran
Eligibility information for specific groups
A U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces of a U.S. ally during wartime may be eligible if they meet both of the requirements listed below.
Both of these must be true. The service member:
- Ended their last active service honorably by death or otherwise, and
- Was a U.S. citizen at the time they entered their last active service and at the time of their death
National Guard and Reserve members
A National Guard or Reserve member may be eligible if they meet any of the requirements listed below.
At least one of these must be true. The National Guard or Reserve member:
- Met their legal minimum active-duty service requirements, was called up to active duty and served their full term of service, and didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge, or
- Was entitled to retirement pay at their time of death, or would have been entitled to retirement pay if they weren’t under 60 years of age at the time of death, or
- Died while hospitalized or getting treatment at the expense of the U.S. for an injury or illness that occurred while they were performing active-duty services for training or inactive-duty training under honorable conditions, or
- Became disabled or died from a disease or injury caused—or made worse—by their active-duty service during a period of active duty for training, or
- Became disabled or died from an injury or certain cardiovascular disorders caused—or made worse—by their active-duty service during a period of inactive-duty training
Members of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps of the Army, Navy, or Air Force
A member of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps may be eligible if they meet any of the requirements listed below.
One of these must be true. The officer died under honorable conditions while:
- Attending an authorized training camp or on an authorized cruise, or
- Performing authorized travel to or from a training camp or cruise, or
- Hospitalized or getting treatment at the expense of the United States for an injury or illness that occurred while they were attending or traveling to a training camp or cruise under honorable conditions
A commissioned officer of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration may be eligible if they meet any of the requirements listed below.
At least one of these must be true. The officer:
- Served on full-time duty on or after July 29, 1945, or
- Served before July 29, 1945, and was assigned to an area of immediate military hazard (as determined by the secretary of defense while in time of war or by a national emergency as declared by the president), or
- Served in the Philippine Islands on December 7, 1941, and continued to serve there until their death
A commissioned officer of the Public Health Service may be eligible if they meet at least one of the requirements listed below.
One of these must be true:
The officer served on full-time duty on or after July 29, 1945. If their service was considered active duty for training, they must have become disabled or died from a disease or injury caused or made worse by their service.
The officer performed full-time duty prior to July 29, 1945:
- In time of war, or
- On detail for duty with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, or
- While a part of the military forces of the United States by executive order of the president
The officer served on inactive-duty training, and their death resulted from an injury caused or made worse by their service.
A WWII Merchant Mariner may be eligible if they meet at least one of the requirements listed below.
One of these must be true. The Merchant Mariner:
- Had oceangoing service during the period of armed conflict from December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1945, or
- Had oceangoing service during the period of armed conflict from December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946, and died after November 11, 1998, or
- Served on blockships in support of Operation Mulberry during World War II
To get a DD214 documenting this service, mail an application to:
United States Coast Guard
2100 2nd Street, SW
Washington, DC 20593
A Philippine Armed Forces Veteran may be eligible if they meet the requirements listed below.
Both of these must be true. The Philippine Veteran was:
- A citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States at the time of their death, and
- Residing in the United States at the time of their death
And one of these must be true. The Philippine Veteran:
- Served before July 1, 1946, in the Philippine military (including recognized guerrilla forces), while these forces were in the service of the Armed Forces of the United States, and died on or after November 1, 2000, or
- Enlisted between October 6, 1945, and June 30, 1947, with the Armed Forces of the United States with the consent of the Philippine government, and died on or after December 16, 2003
A Hmong Veteran may be eligible if they meet all of the requirements listed below.
All of these must be true. The Hmong Veteran:
- Died on or after March 23, 2018, and
- Resided in the U.S. at the time of death, and
- Was naturalized under Section 2(1) of the Hmong Veterans’ Naturalization Act of 2000 (also called the 2000 Act)
What burial benefits do Hmong Veterans qualify for?
Hmong Veterans are eligible for burial in a national or private cemetery. They’re also eligible for a headstone or marker, but not for other memorial items (like a burial flag or Presidential Memorial Certificate) or for military funeral honors (like the playing of “Taps”).
Spouses and surviving spouses of Hmong Veterans aren’t eligible for interment or any other burial benefits, even if they were naturalized under the 2000 Act.
What’s Public Law 115-141?
Public Law 115-141 allows eligible Hmong Veterans to be buried in a national cemetery. Be sure to refer to it when requesting burial benefits.
When you call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office in your time of need, tell the scheduler you’re requesting interment under PL115-141.
When you’re filling out a VA Form 40-10007 Application for Pre-need Determination of Eligibility for Burial in a VA National Cemetery, write “PL115-141” in Block 5. Write the Certification of Naturalization Registration “A” number in Block 6, and select Other in Block 13.
When requesting a headstone or marker for burial in a private cemetery using VA Form 40-1330, write “PL115-141” and the Certification of Naturalization Registration “A” number in Block 33.
Individuals who aren't eligible
Certain family members
These family members aren’t eligible:
- A former spouse who isn’t also a Veteran whose marriage to an eligible Veteran or service member ended by annulment or divorce
- Family members of a Veteran convicted of subversive activities (unless the Veteran receives a pardon from the President of the United States)
- Other family members who don’t meet the eligibility requirements
Individuals who were drafted but then discharged before entering military service
Individuals aren’t eligible if they were ordered to report to an induction station, but were discharged at that point and never actually entered military service.
Veterans with a certain character of discharge
Veterans aren’t eligible if they:
- Separated from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions, or
- Have a character of service that disqualifies them
A VA regional office determines eligibility in cases where the Veteran has:
- An undesirable, bad conduct, and any other type of discharge other than honorable, or
- Multiple discharges of varying character
Veterans found guilty of a capital crime
Veterans aren’t eligible if:
- They’ve been convicted of a federal or state capital crime and may receive a sentence of imprisonment for life or the death penalty—and the conviction is final, or
- Clear and convincing evidence shows that they’ve committed a federal or state capital crime, but they couldn’t have a trial due to flight to avoid prosecution or death
These Veterans also don’t qualify for a Presidential Memorial Certificate, burial flag, headstone, or marker.
Veterans convicted of certain sex offenses
Veterans aren’t eligible if they were convicted of a Tier III sex offense and sentenced to a minimum of life imprisonment—and the conviction is final.
These Veterans also don’t qualify for a Presidential Memorial Certificate, burial flag, headstone, or marker.
Veterans convicted of subversive activities
Veterans aren’t eligible if they were convicted of subversive activities after September 1, 1959, unless they’ve received a pardon from the President of the United States.
More about VA burial benefits and planning
Can I be buried in Arlington National Cemetery?
We can’t determine eligibility for burial in Arlington National Cemetery because the United States Army maintains this cemetery. Please work with a funeral home director to contact Arlington National Cemetery at 877-907-8585 for their eligibility information.
What does burial in a VA national cemetery include?
When a Veteran, service member, or family member qualifies for burial in a VA national cemetery, they receive certain burial benefits at no cost to their family.
These burial benefits include:
- A gravesite in any of our 138 national cemeteries with available space
- Opening and closing of the grave
- A burial liner provided by the government
- A headstone or marker provided by the government
- Perpetual (ongoing) care of the gravesite
At the time of need, the person planning the burial can also request other VA memorial items as well as military funeral honors provided by the Department of Defense. These items and honors have other eligibility requirements.
Can I plan ahead for my burial in a VA national cemetery?
Yes. You can plan ahead to make the process of applying for a burial in a VA national cemetery easier for your family members in the event of your death. To do this, you’ll need to apply for a pre-need eligibility determination.
Please note: The pre-need eligibility determination is only for VA national cemeteries. If you want to be buried in a state or tribal Veterans cemetery, check the site you want ahead of time, since some state Veterans cemeteries require that you live in that state or have other rules around eligibility.
How can I make sure my family members have all the information and documents they need to plan for the future?
The Planning Your Legacy: VA Survivors and Burial Benefits Kit can guide you and your family members through the planning process so they have what they need to prepare for the future and get the benefits they’re entitled to. This kit includes:
- Information about survivors’ benefits
- Sample forms you and your family members may need to fill out
- A section where you can record the personal information your family members will need and the location of important documents, like your birth certificate or will
Note: If you decide not to use this kit, make sure your family knows your final wishes for burial and memorial honors and the location of your discharge papers to establish eligibility.
What should I do if I received an other than honorable, bad conduct, or dishonorable discharge?
If you’ve received one of these discharge statuses, you may not be eligible for VA benefits.
There are 2 ways you can try to qualify: