Veterans Benefits

Veterans Benefits

Who is eligible?

To be eligible you must be a veteran discharged or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable, and have completed the required period of service. U.S. Armed Forces members who die on active duty are also eligible, healing as are spouses and dependent children of eligible living and deceased veterans, and of current and deceased armed forces members.

Burial in national VA cemeteries

Burial benefits in a VA national cemetery include the gravesite, opening and closing of the grave, and perpetual care. Many national cemeteries have columbaria for the inurnment of cremated remains or special gravesites for the burial of cremated remains. Headstones and markers and their placement are provided at the government’s expense.

Veterans and armed forces members who die on active duty are eligible for burial in one of VA’s 114 national cemeteries. An eligible veteran must have been discharged or separated from active duty under honorable or general conditions and have completed the required period of service. Persons entitled to retired pay as a result of 20 years creditable service with a reserve component are eligible. A U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in a war also may be eligible.

Spouses and minor children of eligible veterans and of armed forces members also may be buried in a national cemetery. A surviving spouse of an eligible veteran who married a non veteran, and whose remarriage was terminated by death or divorce, is eligible for burial in a national cemetery.

Gravesites in national cemeteries cannot be reserved. Funeral directors or others making burial arrangements must apply at the time of death. Reservations made under previous programs are honored. The National Cemetery System normally does not conduct burials on weekends.

Headstones & Markers

VA provides headstones and markers for the unmarked graves of veterans anywhere in the world and for eligible dependents of veterans buried in national, state veteran or military cemeteries.

Flat bronze, flat granite, flat marble, upright granite and upright marble types are available to mark the grave in a style consistent with the place of burial. Niche markers also are available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains.

Headstones and markers are inscribed with the name of the deceased, the years of birth and death, and branch of service. Optional items that also may be inscribed at VA expense are: military grade, rank or rate; war service such as World War II; months and days of birth and death; an emblem reflecting one’s beliefs; valor awards; and the Purple Heart. Additional items may be inscribed at private expense.

When burial is in a national, state veteran or military cemetery, the headstone or marker is ordered through the cemetery, which will place it on the grave. Information regarding style, inscription, shipping and placement can be obtained from the cemetery.

When burial occurs in a cemetery other than a national cemetery or a state veterans cemetery,the headstone or marker must be applied for from VA. It is shipped at government expense to the consignee designated on the application. VA, however, does not pay the cost of placing the headstone or marker on the grave.