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Military funeral honors and the committal service

Find out what happens at a military funeral for a Veteran or service member. We carry out memorial services at national cemeteries with dignity and respect.

What happens during a committal service for a Veteran or service member?

When you arrive at the cemetery, a cemetery representative will meet you and give you the deceased’s burial documents. They’ll lead you, and others who are gathered to honor the deceased, to a committal shelter. The committal service takes place at this location, not at the gravesite, and lasts for about 20 minutes. The burial happens after the committal service.

Note: Please be aware that viewing facilities aren’t available at national cemeteries, and the family must arrange for funeral services at a different location.

The family may choose to have readings by a friend, family member, or member of the clergy of their faith. They may also request to have military funeral honors performed at the committal shelter. Arrange for military funeral honors through your funeral director or get help from a Veterans Service Organization or from VA national cemetery staff.

Military funeral honors include:

  • The playing of “Taps”
  • A rifle detail
  • A color guard
  • Uniformed service members who present the burial flag

Note: If you requested a headstone, marker, or medallion, we’ll arrange for it to be delivered within 60 days.

How can I pay my respects at a committal service?

You may:

  • Bring flowers to accompany the casket or urn when it’s taken from the committal shelter to the gravesite, and
  • Visit the gravesite at the end of the workday, but not immediately following the ceremony

What happens at a military funeral at Arlington National Cemetery?

Funerals at Arlington National Cemetery are different.
Learn about Arlington National Cemetery funerals