Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs
Chapter 2 Burial and Memorial Benefits
Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors
Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors
Veterans discharged from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable; Service members who die while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training; and spouses and depen dent children of Veterans and active duty service members, may be eligible for VA burial and memorial benefits. (For the purposes of this section, the term “Veteran” includes eligible persons who die during active duty service.) The Veteran does not have to die before a spouse or dependent child can be eligible for burial or memorial benefits. National Guard and reservists who serve the full period for which they are called to active duty, their spouses and dependent children may also be eligible.
Burial in VA National Cemeteries
Burial in a VA national cemetery is available for eligible Veterans, spouses and dependents at no cost and includes the gravesite, grave-liner, opening and closing of the grave, a headstone or marker, and perpetual care as part of a national shrine. For Veterans, ben efits may also include a burial flag, Presidential Memorial Certificate and military funeral honors provided by the Department of Defense.
With certain exceptions, active duty service beginning after Sept 7, 1980, as an enlisted person, and after Oct 16, 1981, as an officer, must be for a minimum of 24 consecutive months or the full period of active duty (as in the case of reservists or National Guard members called to active duty for a limited duration). Active duty for training, by itself, while serving in the reserves or National Guard, is not sufficient to confer eligibility. Reservists and National Guard members, as well as their spouses and dependent children, are eligible if they were entitled to retired pay at the time of death, or would have been upon reaching requisite age.
Surviving spouses of Veterans who died on or after Jan. 1, 2000, do not lose eligibility for burial in a national cemetery if they remarry. Unmarried dependent children of Veterans who are under 21 years of age, or under 23 years of age if a full-time student at an approved educational institution, are eligible for burial. Unmarried adult children who become physically or mentally disabled and incapable of self-support before age 21, or age 23 if a full-time student may also be eligible.
Certain parents of Servicemembers who die as a result of hostile activity or from combat training-related injuries may be eligible for burial in a national cemetery with their child. The biological or adopt ed parents of a servicemember who died in combat or while perform ing training in preparation for a combat mission, who leaves no sur viving spouse or dependent child, may be buried with the deceased servicemember if there is available space. Eligibility is limited to servicemembers who died on or after Oct. 7, 2001, and biological or adoptive parents who died on or after Oct. 13, 2010.
The next of kin or authorized representative (e.g., funeral director) makes interment arrangements at time of need by contacting the National Cemetery Scheduling Office (see http://www.cem.va.gov/bbene/need.asp) or, in some cases, the national cemetery in which burial is desired. VA normally does not con duct burials on weekends. Gravesites cannot be reserved; however, VA will honor reservations made before 1973 by the Department of the Army.
VA operates 132 national cemeteries, of which 73 are currently open for both new casket and cremation interments and 18 may accept new interment of cremated remains only. Burial options are limited to those available at a specific cemetery and may include in ground casket, or interment of cremated remains in a columbarium, in-ground, or in a scattering area. Contact the national cemetery directly, or visit our website at http://www.cem.va.gov.
Headstones, Markers and Medallions Veterans, active duty service members, retired Reservists and National Guard service members, and Reservists and National Guardsmen service members with creditable active duty service, are eligible for an inscribed headstone or marker for their unmarked grave at any cemetery- national, state veterans, tribal, or private. VA will deliver a headstone or marker at no cost, anywhere in the world. For eligible Veterans or service members buried in a private cemetery whose deaths occurred on or after Nov. 1, 1990, VA may furnish a government headstone or marker (even if the grave is already marked with a private one); or VA may furnish a medallion to affix to an already existing privately-purchased headstone or marker. Spouses and dependent children are eligible for a government head stone or marker only if they are buried in a national or State Veterans cemetery.
Headstones or Markers for private cemeteries: Before ordering, the next of kin or authorized representative should check with the cemetery to ensure that the Government-furnished headstone or marker will be accepted. All installation fees at private cemeteries are the responsibility of the applicant. To submit a claim for a head stone or marker for a gravesite in a private cemetery, use VA Form 40-1330, Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker (available at http://www.va.gov/vaforms/. A copy of the Veteran’s military discharge document is required. Mail forms to Memorial Pro grams Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, 5109 Russell Road, Quantico, VA 22134-3903. The form and supporting documents may also be faxed toll free to 1-800-455-7143.
To submit a claim for a head stone or marker for a gravesite in a private cemetery, use VA Form 40-1330, Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker (available at http://www.va.gov/vaforms/. A copy of the Veteran’s military discharge document is required. Mail forms to Memorial Pro grams Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, 5109 Russell Road, Quantico, VA 22134-3903. The form and supporting documents may also be faxed toll free to 1-800-455-7143.
“In Memory Of” Markers: VA provides memorial headstones and markers with “In Memory Of” as the first line of inscription for those whose remains have not been recovered or identified, were buried at sea, donated to science or cremated and scattered. Eligibility is the same as for regular headstones and markers.
Inscriptions: Headstones and markers must be inscribed with the name of the deceased, branch of service, and year of birth and death. They also may be inscribed with other optional information, including an emblem of belief and, space permitting, additional text including military rank; war service such as “World War II;” complete dates of birth and death; military awards; military organizations; civilian or Veteran affiliations; and personalized words of endearment.
Medallion in lieu of government headstone or marker for private cemeteries: For Veterans or service members whose death occurred on or after Nov. 1, 1990, VA is authorized to provide a me dallion instead of a headstone or marker if the grave is in a private cemetery and already marked with a privately-purchased headstone or marker.
To submit a claim for a medallion to be affixed to a private headstone/marker in a private cemetery, use VA Form 40-1330M, Claim for Government Medallion (available at http://www.va.gov/vaforms). A copy of the Veteran’s military discharge document is required. Mail forms to Memorial Programs Service, Department of Veterans Affairs, 5109 Russell Road, Quantico, VA 22134-3903. The form and supporting documents may also be faxed toll free to 1-800-455-7143.
To check the status of a claim for a headstone or marker for place ment in a national, state, or tribal Veterans cemetery, please call the cemetery. To check the status of one being placed in a private cemetery, please contact the Applicant Assistance Unit at 1-800-697-6947 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Presidential Memorial Certificates are issued to recognize the miltary service of honorably discharged deceased Veterans and per sons who died in the active military, naval, or air service. Next of kin, relatives and other loved ones may apply for a certificate by mailing, or faxing a completed and signed VA Form 40-0247, Presidential Memorial Certificate Request Form (available at http://www.va.gov/vaforms), along with a copy of the Veteran’s military discharge documents or proof of honorable military service. The processing of requests sent without supporting documents will be delayed until eligibility can determined. Eligibility requirements can be found at http://www.cem.va.gov.
Burial Flags: Generally, VA will furnish a U.S. burial flag to memori alize Veterans who received other than dishonorable discharge. This includes certain persons who served in the organized military forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines while in service of the U.S armed forces and who died on or after April 25, 1951. Also eligible for a burial flag are Veterans who were entitled to retired pay for service in the Reserve or National Guard, or would have been entitled if over age 60; and members or former members of the Selected Reserve who served their initial obligation, or were discharged for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, or died while a member of the Selected Reserve. The next of kin may apply for the flag at any VA Regional Office or U.S. Post Office by completing VA Form 21-2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes (available at http://www.va.gov/vaforms/). In most cases, a funeral director will help the family obtain the flag.
Reimbursement of Burial Expenses: VA will pay a burial allowance up to $2,000 if the Veteran’s death is service-connected. In such cases, the person who bore the Veteran’s burial expenses may claim reimbursement from VA. In some cases, VA will pay the cost of transporting the remains of a Veteran whose death was service-connected to the nearest national cemetery with available gravesites. There is no time limit for filing reimbursement claims in service-connected death cases.
Burial Allowance: VA will pay a burial and funeral allowance of up to $2,000 for Veterans who die from service-connected injuries. VA will pay a burial and funeral allowance of up to $300 for Veterans who, at the time of death from nonservice-connected injuries were entitled to receive pension or compensation or would have been entitled if they were not receiving military retirement pay. VA will pay a burial and funeral allowance of up to $734 when the Veteran’s death occurs in a VA facility, a VA-contracted nursing home or a state Veterans nursing home. In cases in which the Veteran’s death was not service con nected, claims must be filed within two years after burial or crema tion.
Plot Allowance: VA will pay a plot allowance of up to $734 when a Veteran is buried in a cemetery not under U.S. government jurisdiction if: the Veteran was discharged from active duty because of disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty; the Veteran was receiving compensation or pension or would have been if the Veteran was not receiving military retired pay; or the Veteran died in a VA facility. The plot allowance may be paid to the state for the cost of a plot or interment in a state-owned cemetery reserved solely for Veteran burials if the Veteran is buried without charge. Burial expenses paid by the deceased’s employer or a state agency will not be reimbursed.
For more information about burial and memorial benefits contact the nearest national cemetery (www.va.gov/directory/guide/division.asp?dnum=4&isFlash=0 ), call 1-202-632-8035, or visit website at www.cem.va.gov/.
Veterans Cemeteries Administered by Other Agencies Department of the Army: Administers Arlington National Cemetery and other Army installation cemeteries. Eligibility is generally more restrictive than at VA national cemeteries. For information, call (703) 607-8000, write Superintendent, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA 22211, or visitwww.arlingtoncemetery.mil/.
State and Tribal Veterans Cemeteries: There are currently 95 VA grant-funded Veterans cemeteries operating in 45 states and U.S. Territories that offer burial options for Veterans and their families. VA grant-funded cemeteries have similar eligibility requirements and certain states/tribal organizations may require state or tribal residency/membership. Some services, particularly for family members, may require a fee. Contact the state or tribal Veterans cemetery or the state Veterans Affairs office for information. To locate a state or tribal Veterans cemetery, visit www.cem.va.gov/grants/veterans_cemeteries.asp
Unclaimed Veterans Remains: “Unclaimed Veterans” are a defined as those who die with no next of kin to claim their remains and insufficient funds to cover burial expenses. A VA pension or other compensation is no longer a pre-requisite for these “Unclaimed Veterans” to receive monetary burial benefits. In addition to burial in a VA national, state or tribal Veterans cemetery and a government headstone or marker, there are monetary benefits associated with burial of unclaimed Veterans remains.
These monetary benefits include reimbursement for the cost of the casket or urn used for burial, reimbursement for transportation to a national cemetery, a burial allowance and a plot allowance. More information on memorial and monetary burial benefits for unclaimed Veteran remains can be found at http://www.cem.va.gov/CEM/docs/FactSheets/Unclaimed_remains.pdf. For Veterans who die while at a VA facility under authorized VA admission or at a non-VA facility under authorized VA admission, and are unclaimed, the closest VA healthcare facility is responsible for arranging proper burial for the unclaimed Veteran.