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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 these requirements 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
  • The Veteran or service member 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
  • The Veteran or service member 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
  • The Veteran or service member 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 these requirements 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
  • The National Guard member 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
  • The Reservist 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 these requirements 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.

Officers who served before October 16, 1981, and enlisted personnel who served before September 7, 1980

Both of these must be true:

  • The Veteran or service member served for at least 1 day of active duty on or after April 6, 1917, and
  • The Veteran or service member is buried in a private cemetery marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker

Officers who served after October 16, 1981, and enlisted personnel who served after September 7, 1980

Both of these must be true:

  • The Veteran or service member served for a minimum of 24 months of continuous active duty, and
  • The Veteran or service member is buried in a private cemetery marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker

Note: Any service member who died while serving on active duty is eligible, regardless of when they served.

A National Guard member or Reservist may be eligible for a medallion if they meet any of these requirements 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
  • The National Guard member 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
  • The Reservist 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 these 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’s 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 these descriptions is true:

  • The deceased’s remains haven’t been recovered or identified, or
  • The deceased’s remains were buried at sea, or
  • The deceased’s remains were donated to science, or
  • The deceased’s remains were cremated and scattered

How do I apply for a memorial item?

You can apply for a memorial item online, by mail, or by fax.

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).

Get VA Form 40-1330 to download

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).

Get VA Form 40-1330M to download

Send us your application and supporting documents

You can send us your application and documents in any of these ways:

Online

Submit your application and supporting documents online using the QuickSubmit tool through AccessVA.

If it’s your first time signing into this tool, you’ll need to register first. After you’ve registered, you can upload your application and documents online.

Use the QuickSubmit tool through AccessVA

By mail

Mail your application, along with a copy of the Veteran’s DD214 or other discharge documents to this address:

NCA FP Evidence Intake Center
PO Box 5237
Janesville, WI  53547

Note: Please don’t send original documents since we can’t return them to you.

Review our list of military discharge documents

By fax

You can also fax your application to 800-455-7143.

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



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 their designs
  • 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