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Veterans headstones, markers, and medallions

Find out how to apply for a headstone, grave or niche marker, or medallion to honor a Veteran, service member, or eligible family member.

Eligibility

Who can be honored with a headstone, grave marker, or niche marker?

Review eligibility requirements for:

  • A Veteran who didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge or a service member who died while on active duty may be eligible for a headstone or marker if they meet the requirements listed below specific to when they served.

    Enlisted personnel who served before September 7, 1980 and officers who served before October 16, 1981

    At least one of these must be true. The Veteran or service member:

    • Died on or after November 1, 1990, and their grave is currently marked with a privately purchased headstone, or
    • Was buried in an unmarked grave, anywhere in the world

    Note: If the Veteran or service member served before World War I, we require detailed documents, like muster rolls, extracts from state files, or the military or state organization where they served.

    Enlisted personnel who served after September 7, 1980 and officers who served after October 16, 1981

    At least one of these must be true. The Veteran or service member:

    • Died on or after November 1, 1990, and their grave is currently marked with a privately purchased headstone, or
    • Was buried in an unmarked grave, anywhere in the world

    And at least one of these must also be true. The Veteran or service member:

    • Served for a minimum of 24 months of continuous active duty, or
    • Died while serving on active duty

    Note: Hmong individuals who were living in the U.S. when they died are eligible if they were naturalized under the Hmong Veterans Naturalization Act of 2000 and died on or after March 23, 2018.

  • A National Guard member or Reservist may be eligible for a headstone or marker if they meet any of the requirements listed below specific to their type of service.

    National Guard members

    At least one of these must be true. The National Guard member:

    • Was entitled to retirement pay at their time of death (or would have been entitled if they were over 60 years old), or
    • Served in a federal status and for the period of time they were called to serve

    Reservists

    At least one of these must be true. The Reservist:

    • Was entitled to retirement pay at their time of death (or would have been entitled if they were over 60 years old), or
    • Was called to active duty for purposes other than training

    Note: National Guard members or Reservists who have only limited active-duty service for training aren’t eligible in most cases. They may be eligible in certain situations, such as if they died during or as the result of the training.

  • An eligible spouse or other family member buried in a national cemetery, state or tribal Veterans cemetery, military post cemetery, or military base cemetery may be eligible for a headstone or marker. They may still be eligible even if they die before the Veteran.

    Spouses and family members buried in a private cemetery aren’t eligible for these memorial items.

    In most cases, we provide one gravesite and a single headstone for all eligible family members. When 2 Veterans are married, we’ll provide 2 side-by-side gravesites and 2 headstones or markers if requested.

Who can be honored with a medallion?

Review eligibility requirements for:

  • A Veteran who didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge or a service member who died while on active duty may be eligible for a medallion if they meet the requirements listed below specific to when they served.

    We provide 2 types of medallions. Veterans and service members may be eligible for a bronze medallion. If they’ve received a Medal of Honor, they may also be eligible for a Medal of Honor medallion.

    Service before September 7, 1980

    All of these must be true. The Veteran or service member:

    • Served on or after April 6, 1917, and
    • Died on or after November 1, 1990, and
    • Is buried in a private cemetery marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker

    Service after September 7, 1980

    All of these must be true. The Veteran or service member:

    • Died on or after November 1, 1990, and
    • Is buried in a private cemetery marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker

    And at least one of these must also be true. The Veteran or service member:

    • Served for a minimum of 24 months of continuous active duty, or
    • Died while serving on active duty
  • National Guard members and Reservists

    A National Guard member or Reservist may be eligible for a medallion if they meet any of the requirements listed below specific to their type of service.

    We provide 2 types of medallions. National Guard members and Reservists may be eligible for a bronze medallion. If they’ve received a Medal of Honor, they may also be eligible for a Medal of Honor medallion.

    National Guard members

    At least one of these must be true. The National Guard member:

    • Was entitled to retirement pay at their time of death (or would have been entitled if they were over 60 years old), or
    • Served in a federal status and for the period of time they were called to serve

    Reservists

    At least one of these must be true. The Reservist:

    • Was entitled to retirement pay at their time of death (or would have been entitled if they were over 60 years old), or
    • Was called to active duty for purposes other than training

    Note: National Guard members or Reservists who have only limited active-duty service for training aren’t eligible in most cases. They may be eligible in certain situations, such as if they died during or as the result of the training.

  • A commissioned officer may be eligible for a medallion to be attached to a headstone or marker that was purchased at their or another person’s private expense. The officer may be eligible if they served in active Public Health Service on or after April 6, 1917.

Note: Spouses and dependents aren’t eligible for a medallion.


Applying for a memorial item

Can I apply for one of these memorial items?

In most cases, you can apply for one of these memorial items if you’re representing the deceased Veteran, service member, or family member in any of the below relationships or professional roles.

One of these must describe your relationship to the deceased:

  • A family member, or
  • A personal representative (someone who officially represents the deceased), or
  • A representative of an accredited Veterans Service Organization, or
  • An employee of a state or local government whose official responsibilities include serving Veterans, or
  • Any person who is legally responsible for making arrangements for unclaimed remains or for details having to do with the deceased’s interment or memorialization, or
  • Any individual representing the deceased, if the Veteran’s service ended before April 6, 1917

You must be a member of the deceased’s family to apply for a memorial item if any of the below descriptions is true. The deceased’s remains:

  • Haven’t been recovered or identified, or
  • Were buried at sea, or
  • Were donated to science, or
  • Were cremated and scattered

How do I apply for a memorial item?

Fill out an application

For a headstone, grave marker, or niche marker, fill out the Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker (VA Form 40-1330).
Download VA Form 40-1330 (PDF)

Note: If this is your second request, or if you’re requesting a replacement because of a mistake with the inscription or a damaged headstone or marker, be sure to explain this in block 27 of the form.

For a medallion to be placed on a privately purchased headstone or marker, fill out the Claim for Government Medallion for Placement in a Private Cemetery (VA Form 40-1330M).
Download VA Form 40-1330M (PDF)

Send us your application and supporting documents

Mail or fax your form, along with a copy of the Veteran’s DD214 or other discharge documents. Don’t send the originals since we can’t return them.

  • Fax the documents to 800-455-7143, or
  • Mail the discharge papers and the form to this address:

Memorial Products Service (41B)
Department of Veteran Affairs
5109 Russell Road
Quantico, VA 22134-3903

If you need help with your application, please call us at 800-697-6947. We’re here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET.


More information about headstones and markers

  • Yes. You’ll choose either a headstone or marker and the material you’d like it to be made of. You’ll make your choice by selecting one of the boxes in block 15 of Form 40-1330. You can request any of these:

    • Upright headstones, in granite or marble
    • Flat markers, in granite, marble, or bronze
    • Niche markers, in bronze

    Note: For burial in a private cemetery, check with officials at the specific cemetery to make sure they allow the style you want.

    Learn more about these memorial items—and see what they look like
    Learn about special headstone and marker styles for Civil War and Spanish-American War Veterans
    Find out how to clean a government headstone or marker

  • All headstones and markers must include:

    • The person’s legal name
    • The Veteran’s service branch
    • The beginning and ending years of the person’s life
    • The section and grave number (if in a state or national cemetery)

    You can also choose to inscribe:

    • The full beginning and ending dates of the person’s life
    • The highest rank the Veteran attained
    • The Veteran’s awards and war service
    • An emblem of belief

    We may approve other requests, such as:

    • Nicknames
    • Terms of endearment (like “Loving Father”)
    • Special unit identification

    The person’s next of kin, or an authorized representative (like a funeral home director) must provide this information to cemetery officials at a national cemetery, state Veterans cemetery, military post cemetery, or military base cemetery. These officials will order the headstone or marker for you.
    See the abbreviations that are most often used for inscriptions

  • For national or state cemeteries, please contact the cemetery directly to find out when the headstone or marker will arrive.
    Find a national, state, or tribal government Veterans cemetery

    Cemetery staff in national, military post, and military base cemeteries are responsible for setting the headstone or marker at no cost to you. Some state Veterans’ cemeteries may charge you a small (nominal) fee for setting a government headstone or marker.

  • Contact the national cemetery where the grave is located. If the Veteran is buried in a private cemetery, call us at 800-697-6947. We’re here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET.

  • We provide memorial headstones and markers for:

    • Eligible deceased active-duty service members and qualified Veterans when their remains are missing, not identified, donated to science, buried at sea, or scattered, and
    • Eligible spouses and other dependents whose remains are not available, whether or not they pass away before the eligible Veteran

    Note: For spouses and other dependents, this benefit is for burial only in national, military post, military base, or state Veterans cemeteries, not private cemeteries.

    The words engraved on the memorial item must begin, “IN MEMORY OF."

  • Yes. All Veterans are eligible for their own headstone and gravesite.

    Spouses can be buried in:

    • Side-by-side graves with separate headstones, or
    • The same gravesite with inscriptions on a shared headstone

What do I need to know about burial in a private cemetery?

As you’re preparing for the burial or memorial item, you should know that:

  • You don’t have to pay for the headstone or marker itself, but you’re responsible for the cost of placing it (called a setting fee). And you’ll need to make arrangements yourself to have the headstone or marker placed.
  • If you’d like, you can request a medallion to attach to a privately purchased headstone, marker, or niche cover in a private cemetery. You can choose from 3 different sizes. When you receive the medallion, it comes with a kit to help you attach it.
    Learn more about medallions and see what they look like
  • You may have additional costs, restrictions on the type of headstone or marker you can use, and other requirements you should know about when preparing for burial in a private cemetery.
    Find out what to ask when planning a burial in a private cemetery

If the grave remains unmarked for 60 days after you’ve applied for a memorial item:

If more than 60 days have passed and the grave still isn't marked, contact the cemetery, funeral home, or other party responsible for accepting delivery of the headstone, marker, or medallion. If they haven't received it, call us at 800-697-6947. We’re here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET.

If you have a complaint about a private cemetery:
There are organizations that can help you resolve the issue.
Get help resolving your complaint (PDF)

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