As a Veteran or spouse of a Veteran, you are entitled to receive burial and memorial benefits. Since the Veterans Administration does not pay for all of the costs typically associated with a funeral, it is highly advisable that the Veteran set aside funds in a Final Expense Policy or Trust to ensure a final and fitting tribute.
Veterans Burial Benefits
Burial benefits available include a grave site in any of the 131 national cemeteries with available space. The items below are provided for free:
- Opening and closing of the grave
- Perpetual care
- Government headstone or market
- Burial flag
- Presidential Memorial Certificate
Military Funeral Honors Ceremony
Upon the family’s request, eligible Veterans can receive a military funeral honors ceremony, which includes folding and presenting of the United States burial flag and the playing of Taps.
Burial at Sea
This means of final disposition of remains is performed on a United States Navy vessel. The committal ceremony is performed while the ship
is deployed, therefore, family members are not allowed to be present. The commanding officer of the ship assigned to perform the ceremony will notify the family of the date, time and longitude and latitude once the committal service has been completed.
Any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who dies on active duty. Any Veteran who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. The spouse, surviving spouse or dependent of an eligible Veteran or member of the Armed Forces may be eligible for interment in a national cemetery even if that Veteran is not buried or memorialized in a national cemetery.
- The minor children of an eligible Veteran.
F or purpose of burial in a national cemetery, a minor child is a child who is unmarried and:
– Who is under 21 years of age; or,
– Who is under 23 years of age and pursuing a full-time course of instruction at an approved educational institution.
– The unmarried adult child of an eligible Veteran. For purpose of burial in a national cemetery, an unmarried adult child is of any age but became permanently physically or mentally disabled and incapable of self-support before reaching 21 years of age, or before reaching 23 years of age if pursuing a full-time course of instruction at an approved educational institution. Proper supporting documentation must be provided.
Time of Need
Please advise your family of your wishes and where your discharge papers are kept.
These papers are very important in establishing your eligibility. At the time of need, your family would contact a funeral home to assist them with making burial arrangements at the national cemetery. It is a good idea to set funds aside with a Final Expense Trust or plan specifically designed for this purpose. Also, please note that grave sites in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemeteries cannot be reserved in advance.
- Discharge papers to establish your eligibility for burial services
- Burials must take place during the week and cannot be conducted on a federal holiday
VA Application Process
It takes about 10 minutes to establish eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery.
- At the time of need, families simply fax the DD-214 form or other discharge papers to 1-866-900-6417 and follow up with a phone call to 1-800-535-1117.
- Then, make arrangements with a funeral home or directly with a VA national cemetery.
- Although burial plots cannot be reserved, you can plan ahead by safeguarding military discharge papers
*The burial allowance for a non-service-connected death is
$300 and $2, 000 for a death connected to military service.
Information provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans
Affairs. For more information contact 1-800-827-1000 or visit
www.cem.va.gov. Information last updated as of June 2014 and
is subject to change.