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Benefit Details
Veteran & Dependent Burial in VA National Cemeteries
Managing Agency National Cemetery Administration (NCA) http://www.cem.va.gov

Program Description

The National Cemetery Administration honors Veterans and their families with final resting places and lasting memorials that commemorate their service to our nation.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Cemetery Administration maintains 131 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico as well as 33 soldier's lots and monument sites.

Burial benefits include a gravesite in any of our open cemeteries with available space, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Some Veterans may also be eligible for a burial allowance. Cremated remains are buried or inurned in national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains.

Burial benefits available for eligible spouses and dependents include burial with the Veteran and perpetual care of the interment site. The spouse or dependent's name and date of birth and death will be inscribed on the Veteran's headstone at no cost to the family.

To schedule a burial fax the discharge papers to 1-866-900-6417 and follow-up with a phone call to 1-800-535-1117.

General Program Requirements

Any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who dies while on active duty or any Veteran who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable may be eligible for burial in a National Cemetery.

Veterans whose only active duty service was for training while in the National Guard or Reserves are not eligible unless there are special circumstances (e.g., death while on duty or as a result of training).

Persons with 20 years of service in the National Guard or Reserves who are entitled to retired pay are also eligible for a government headstone or marker. A copy of the Reserve Retirement Eligibility Benefits Letter must accompany the application. Active duty service (other than active duty for training) while in the National Guard or Reserves also establishes eligibility.

Commissioned Officers of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are considered to be active duty members and Veterans, once discharged.

Any deceased Veteran discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces under conditions other than dishonorable is eligible for a government-furnished headstone or marker. Service after Sept. 7, 1980, as an enlisted person or after Oct. 16, 1981, as an officer, must be for a minimum of 24 consecutive months or be completed under special circumstances (e.g., death on active duty or discharge resulting from injury).

Generally, in order to receive VA benefits and services the Veteran/Servicemember's character of discharge or service must be under other than dishonorable conditions (e.g., honorable, under honorable conditions, general). However, individuals receiving undesirable, bad conduct, dishonorable and other discharges may qualify for VA benefits depending on a determination made by VA.

Spouses and certain eligible dependents may also be buried in national cemeteries.

Pre-arrangement for burial at a National Cemetery is available.

Your Next Steps

The following information will lead you to the next steps to apply for this benefit.

Application Process

Requests for burial in a VA National Cemetery cannot be made via the Internet.

For more information, visit:
http://www.cem.va.gov/burial_benefits/

For a list of National Cemeteries by state, visit:
http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/cems/listcem.asp

Funeral homes that are assisting families during their time of need can contact the National Cemetery Scheduling Office to make arrangements for burial and/or inurnment and a committal service. To schedule a burial, fax the discharge papers to 1-866-900-6417 and follow-up with a phone call to 1-800-535-1117. Direct contact with a Veteran's family during the difficult days surrounding a loved one's death is usually not necessary until the family arrives at the cemetery for the committal service.

Program Contact Information

If you have questions:
  • Visit the Inquiry Routing & Information System (IRIS) website to search Frequently Asked Questions or ask a question on-line
  • Call 1-800-827-1000
  • Call 1-800-829-4833, if you are hearing impaired
To apply for additional Veterans' benefits and view your benefit status, open an eBenefits Premium account. eBenefits is a one-stop source for information on Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs benefits and services. With a free Premium level eBenefits account, Veterans and Servicemembers can conduct self-service transactions such as checking claim status information, GI Bill enrollment, and obtaining copies of civil service preference letters, DD214, and other personal information. For further information and to register for a free Premium level account, visit the eBenefits website.