Eligible veterans, military spouses, and eligible military dependents have the option of choosing a burial in one of the many VA national cemeteries, at no cost. Burial proceedings, the gravesite, grave-liner, opening and closing of the grave, a headstone or marker, and lifetime care as part of a national site are all included in your military funeral benefits, if eligible.
For veterans, military funeral benefits also can even a burial flag and military funeral honors. Presidential Memorial Certificates may also be requested by military family members.
BURIAL OPTIONS FOR THE DECEASED SERVICE MEMBER
The VA currently has 122 national cemeteries; 83 are open for new burials and 21 cemeteries accepting exclusively cremated remains. Burial options are limited to those available at specific cemeteries but may include in-ground casket, cremated remains placed in a columbarium, in ground or a scatter garden.
NATIONAL CEMETERY FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR FAMILY MEMBERS
Spouses and children of deceased military service members are given top treatment at national cemeteries, and honored for their family’s service to their country. If the surviving spouse of a U.S. veteran remarries, he or she is still eligible for burial in a national cemetery.
Burial of dependent children is limited to unmarried children under 21 years of age, or under 23 years of age if the child is a full-time student. Unmarried adult children who become physically or mentally disabled before age 21 are also eligible for burial.
HEADSTONES, MARKERS, AND INSCRIPTIONS
Active duty service members, veterans, and retired Reservists or National Guard members are eligible for a free, inscribed headstone or marker for their grave at any cemetery; national, state veterans, or private, anywhere in the world.
In national cemeteries, the style chosen (granite, upright, marble, or bronze) must be consistent with existing monuments at the place of burial.
The standard format for headstone inscriptions includes the name of the deceased, branch of service, and year of birth and death.
Inscriptions also may include personalized markings such as a religious emblem; military rank; war service; military awards and organizations; or words of endearment.
The VA provides "In Memory Of" markers to memorialize military service members whose remains were not recovered or identified, were buried at sea, donated to science or cremated and scattered.
VA will donate a U.S. burial flag for veterans who served during wartime on or after Jan. 31, 1955; veterans who were entitled to (or would have been entitled at age 60) retired pay for service in the reserves; and disability-discharged members of the Selected Reserve.
VA REIMBURSEMENT OF BURIAL EXPENSES
VA will provide a burial allowance up to $2,000 if the veteran’s death is service-connected. The VA will also pay a $300 funeral allowance for veterans who were entitled to receive a pension at their time of death. In non service-connected death cases, claims must be filed within two years after burial or cremation for the military family to receive burial reimbursement.
VA will pay a $300 plot allowance when a veteran is buried in a cemetery outside U.S. government jurisdiction, if the deceased is eligible. Eligibility includes being discharged from active duty due to service related disability; if the veteran was receiving compensation or pension; or if the service member died in a VA facility.
MILITARY FUNERAL HONORS
If requested by the military family, the Department of Defense provides military funeral honors that include folding and presentation of the United States flag while the ceremonious playing of Taps. The detail performing the ceremony will consist of at least two uniformed service members, with at least one member from the service belonging to the deceased military service member.