Burial & Memorial Benefits
Veterans discharged from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable and service members who die while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, as well as spouses and dependent children of Veterans and active duty servicemembers, may be eligible for Veterans Assistance (VA) burial and memorial benefits. The veteran does not have to die before a spouse or dependent child for them to be eligible.
Surviving Spouses of veterans who died on or after January 1, 2000, do not lose eligibility for burial in a national cemetery if they remarry. Burial of dependent children is limited to unmarried children under 21 years of age, or under 23 years of age if a full-time student at an approved educational institution. 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, also are eligible for burial.
Headstones & Markers
Veterans, active duty service members, and retired Reservists and National Guard service members, are eligible for an inscribed headstone or marker for their grave at any cemetery, national, State Veterans, or private. VA will deliver a headstone or marker at no cost, anywhere in the world. For eligible veterans whose deaths occurred on or after November 1, 1990, VA may provide a government headstone or marker even if the grave is already marked with a private one. Spouses and dependent children are eligible for a government headstone or marker only if they are buried in a national or State Veterans cemetery.
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 grave sites. There is no time limit for filing reimbursement claims in service-connected death cases.
VA will pay a $300 burial and funeral allowance for Veterans who, at time of death, were entitled to receive pension or compensation or would have been entitled if they were not receiving military retirement pay. Eligibility also may be established when 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-connected, claims must be filed within two years after burial or cremation.
VA will pay a $300 plot allowance 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 $300 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.
Military Funeral Honors
Upon request, the Department of Defense (DoD) will provide military funeral honors consisting of folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of “Taps.” A funeral honors detail consists of two or more uniformed members of the armed forces, with at least one member from the deceased’s branch of service. Family members should inform their funeral director if they want military funeral honors. DoD maintains a toll-free number (1-877-MILHONR) for use by funeral directors only to request honors. VA can help arrange honors for burials at VA national cemeteries. Veterans service organizations or volunteer groups may help provide honors. For more information, visit the Military Honors website.
Veterans Cemeteries Administered by Other Agencies
Arlington National Cemetery is Administered by the Department of the Army. Eligibility is more restrictive than at VA national cemeteries. For information, call 703-607-8000, write Superintendent, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia 22211, or visit the Arlington Cemetary website.
Department of the Interior
Administers two active national cemeteries, Andersonville National Cemetery in Georgia and Andrew Johnson National Cemetery in Tennessee. Eligibility is similar to VA national cemeteries.
State Veterans Cemeteries
Seventy-four State Veterans cemeteries offer burial options for Veterans and their families. These cemeteries have similar eligibility requirements but many require state residency. Some services, particularly for family members, may require a fee. Contact the State cemetery or State Veterans affairs office for information.