Memorializing a loved one is an important part of the transition that follows celebrations and honors of the life lived. However, many Americans may not know or fully understand VA’s burial and memorial benefits.
You can apply to find out in advance if you can be buried in a VA national cemetery. This is called a pre-need determination of eligibility—and it can help make the burial planning process easier for your family members in their time of need.
The VA Burial and Memorial Products guide covers:
- How to apply for the burial benefits you’ve earned
- Help planning for a burial or memorial service in a VA national cemetery
- Assisting family members with ordering memorial items to honor the service of a Veteran
- How to plan for a burial in advance or at time of need
- How to obtain a Presidential Memorial Certificate
- Links and phone numbers for additional information
Burial in a VA national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces and Veterans who have met minimum active duty service requirements, as applicable, and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
A Veteran’s spouse, widow or widower, minor children, and, under certain conditions, unmarried adult children with disabilities, may also be eligible for burial. Eligible spouses and children may be buried even if they predecease the Veteran.
VA provides the gravesite, grave liner, opening and closing of the grave, government headstone or marker, U.S. burial flag, Presidential Memorial Certificate, and perpetual care of the gravesite at no cost to the family.
*VA operates 151 national cemeteries and 34 soldiers’ lots and monument sites in 44 states and Puerto Rico. Nearly 5 million Americans, including Veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in VA’s national cemeteries. VA also provides funding to establish, expand, improve and maintain 117 Veterans cemeteries in 48 states and territories including tribal trust lands, Guam, and Saipan.
For Veterans not buried in a VA national cemetery, VA provides headstones, markers or medallions to commemorate their service.
Based on where you are in life, your VA benefits and services can support you in different ways. For end of life planning, view and download the VA Burial and Memorial Products Quick Start Guide. For all other VA benefits and services, download the VA Welcome Kit so you can turn to it throughout your life—like when it’s time to go to school, get a job, buy a house, get health care, retire, or make plans for your care as you age.
Additional VA Quick Start Guides on VA Mental Health Services, community and urgent care, applying for a disability rating, education benefits, caregiver and survivor benefits are available for download here.
*This content was updated on 9/17/20.