U.S. Military Veterans' Information & Benefits
Burial benefits available include a gravesite in any of 131 national 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 Burial Allowances. 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 spouses and dependents buried in a national cemetery include burial with the Veteran, perpetual care, and the spouse or dependents name and date of birth and death will be inscribed on the Veteran's headstone, at no cost to the family. Eligible spouses and dependents may be buried, even if they predecease the Veteran.
The Veterans family should make funeral or cremation arrangements with a funeral provider or cremation office. Any item or service obtained from a funeral home or cremation office will be at the family's expense.
Preparing in Advance
Gravesites in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemeteries cannot be reserved in advance.
You should 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 who will assist them with making burial arrangements at the national cemetery. You may wish to make pre-need arrangements with a funeral home.
To schedule a burial: Fax all discharge documentation to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-866-900-6417 and follow-up with a phone call to 1-800-535-1117.
Donating Burial Flags in National Cemeteries
Most of the Department of Veterans Affairs national cemeteries display an Avenue of Flags on patriotic holidays and during special events. The Avenues consist of burial flags donated by the families of deceased Veterans and provide a unique visible tribute to all of our Nation's Veterans.
A Certificate of Appreciation is presented to the donor for providing their loved ones' burial flag to a national cemetery.
Please contact the cemetery of your choice for information on how to donate a Veteran's burial flag.
For Burial in a Private Cemetery
Burial benefits available for Veterans buried in a private cemetery may include a Government headstone, marker or medallion, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Some Veterans may also be eligible for Burial Allowances. There are not any VA benefits available to spouses and dependents buried in a private cemetery.
BURIAL AND PLOT‐INTERMENT ALLOWANCES
WHAT ARE VA BURIAL ALLOWANCES
VA burial allowances are partial reimbursements of an eligible Veteran’s burial and funeral costs. When the cause of death is not service related, the reimbursements are generally described as two payments: (1) a burial and funeral expense allowance, and (2) a plot or interment allowance.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE
You may be eligible for a VA burial allowance if:
--you paid for a Veteran’s burial or funeral, AND
-- you have not been reimbursed by another government agency or some other source, such as the deceased Veteran’s employer, AND
--the Veteran was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable
In addition, at least one of the following conditions must be met:
--the Veteran died because of a service-related disability, OR
--the Veteran was receiving VA pension or compensation at the time of death, OR
-- the Veteran was entitled to receive VA pension or compensation, but decided not to reduce his/her military retirement or disability pay, OR
--or the Veteran died while traveling under proper authorization and at VA expense to or from a specified place for the purpose of examination, treatment, or care, OR
--the Veteran had an original or reopened claim pending at the time of death and has been found entitled to compensation or pension from a date prior to the date of death, OR
--the Veteran died on or after October 9, 1996, while a patient at a VA–approved state nursing home.
HOW MUCH DOES VA PAY?
VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for deaths on or after September 11, 2001. VA will pay up to $1,500 for deaths prior to September 10, 2001. If the Veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, some of all of the cost of transporting the deceased may be reimbursed.
For deaths on or after October 1, 2011, VA will pay up to $700.00 toward burial and funeral expenses (if hospitalized by VA at time of death), or $300 toward burial and funeral expenses (if not hospitalized by VA at time of death), and a $700.00 plot-interment allowance (if not buried in a national cemetery). For deaths on or after December 1, 2001, but before October 1, 2011, VA will pay up to $300.00 toward burial and funeral expenses and a $300.00 plot-interment allowance. The plot-interment allowance is $150.00 for deaths prior to December 1, 2001. If the death happened while the Veteran was in a VA hospital or under VA contracted nursing home care, some of all of the costs for transporting the Veteran’s remains may be reimbursed. An annual increase in burial and plot allowances, for deaths occurring after October 1, 2011, begins in fiscal year 2013 based on the Consumer Price Index for the preceding 12-month period.
HOW CAN YOU APPLY?
You can apply by filling out VA Form 21-530, Application for Burial Benefits. You should attach a copy of the Veteran’s military discharge document (DD 214 or equivalent), death certificate, funeral and burial bills. They should show that you have paid them in full. You may download the form at http://www.va.gov/vaforms/
Veteran who served during wartime
Why Does VA Provide a Burial Flag?
A United States flag is provided, at no cost, to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased Veteran who served honorably in the U. S. Armed Forces. It is furnished to honor the memory of a Veteran’s military service to his or her country. VA will furnish a burial flag for memorialization for each other than dishonorable discharged.
Veteran who died on active duty after May 27, 1941
Veteran who served after January 31, 1955
Peacetime Veteran who was discharged or released before June 27, 1950
Certain persons who served in the organized military forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines while in service of the U.S. Armed Forces and who died on or after April 25, 1951
Certain former members of the Selected Reserves
Who Is Eligible to Receive the Burial Flag?
Generally, the flag is given to the next-of-kin, as a keepsake, after its use during the funeral service. When there is no next-of-kin, VA will furnish the flag to a friend making request for it. For those VA national cemeteries with an Avenue of Flags, families of Veterans buried in these national cemeteries may donate the burial flags of their loved ones to be flown on patriotic holidays.
How Can You Apply?
You may apply for the flag by completing VA Form 27-2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes. You may get a flag at any VA regional office or U.S. Post Office. Generally, the funeral director will help you obtain the flag.
Can a Burial Flag Be Replaced?
The law allows us to issue one flag for a Veteran's funeral. We cannot replace it if it is lost, destroyed, or stolen. However, some Veterans' organizations or other community groups may be able to help you get another flag.
How Should the Burial Flag Be Displayed?
The proper way to display the flag depends upon whether the casket is open or closed. VA Form 27-2008 provides the correct method for displaying and folding the flag. The burial flag is not suitable for outside display because of its size and fabric. It is made of cotton and can easily be damaged by weather.
"Honoring Those Who Served"
The Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for providing military funeral honors. "Honoring Those Who Served" is the title of the DOD program for providing dignified military funeral honors to Veterans who have defended our nation.
Upon the family's request, Public Law 106-65 requires that every eligible Veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, to include folding and presenting the United States burial flag and the playing of Taps. The law defines a military funeral honors detail as consisting of two or more uniformed military persons, with at least one being a member of the Veteran's parent service of the armed forces. The DOD program calls for funeral home directors to request military funeral honors on behalf of the Veterans' family. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Cemetery Administration cemetery staff can also assist with arranging military funeral honors at VA national cemeteries. Veterans organizations may assist in providing military funeral honors. When military funeral honors at a national cemetery are desired, they are arranged prior to the committal service by the funeral home.
The Department of Defense began the implementation plan for providing military funeral honors for eligible Veterans as enacted in Section 578 of Public Law 106-65 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2000 on Jan. 1, 2000.
Questions or comments concerning the DOD military funeral honors program may be sent to the address listed below. The military funeral honors Web site is located at www.militaryfuneralhonors.osd.mil.
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense For Public Affairs
Community Relations and Public Liaison
1400 Defense Pentagon, Room 2D982
Washington, DC 20301-1400
To arrange military funeral honors, contact your local funeral home.
Our experienced staff can help you arrive at the perfect decision for you, and your family. Call us at (603) 237-4311 to discuss the wide variety of permanent memorialization options, or contact us via the contact form.