To confirm your eligibility for burial benefits, please call a Veteran’s Benefits Counselor at:
Burial Allowance Benefits
In certain circumstances, a Burial Allowance is available from the Veterans Benefits Administration.
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 interment allowance.
- 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 or all of the cost of transporting the deceased may be reimbursed.
- VA will pay up to $300 toward burial and funeral expenses, and a $300 plot-interment allowance.
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
the veteran died in a VA hospital, in a nursing home under VA contract, or while in an approved state nursing home.
You can apply by filling out
VA Form 21-530, Application for Burial Benefits. You should attach proof of the veteran's military service (DD 214), a death certificate, and copies of funeral and burial bills you have paid.
Time Limits for Making Claims
Concerning service-connected deaths, there is no time limit for filing reimbursement claims. In other deaths, claims must be filed within two years after permanent burial or cremation.
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 for a:
veteran who served during wartime
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 21-2008, 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 21-2008 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.
For More Information Call Toll-Free at 1-800-827-1000
Military Funeral Honors
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
Department of Defense
Directorate for Public Inquiry and Analysis
Room 3A750, The Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1400
Headstones and Markers
The Department of Veterans Affairs provides headstones and markers for the graves of veterans anywhere in the world and for eligible dependents of veterans buried in national, state veteran or federal cemeteries. Flat bronze, flat granite, flat marble and upright marble types are available to mark the grave of a veteran or dependent in the style consistent with existing monuments at the place of burial. Niche markers also are available to mark columbaria used for the 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 received; and the Purple Heart. Additional items may be inscribed at private expense.
When burial is in a national cemetery, military post or state veterans 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.
If you wish to mail your application, please send it to the Quantico, Virginia, mailing address. You may use either the US Postal Service, or one of the mail delivery services commercially available. Our address is:
Memorial Programs Service (41A1)
Department of Veterans Affairs
5109 Russell Road
Quantico, VA 22134-3903
Using the information on the DD-214 and other supporting documents, fill out the application (VA Form 40-1330) as completely as possible. Be sure to include telephone numbers and signatures. To be sure you are using the most current version of the application form, select the following link: VA Form 40-1330, Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker (Adobe Acrobat Reader required)
Forms and assistance are available at VA regional offices. For information regarding the status of an application, write to the Director, Office of Memorial Programs (403B3), or call 1- 800-697-6947.
Eligibility for a VA headstone or marker is the same as for burial in a national cemetery. VA cannot issue a headstone or marker for a spouse or dependent buried in a private cemetery. Twenty-year reservists without active-duty service are eligible for a headstone or grave marker, if they are entitled to military retired pay at the time of death.
Presidential Memorial Certificates
A Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC) is an engraved paper certificate, signed by the current President, to honor the memory of honorably discharged deceased veterans.
This program was initiated in March 1962 by President John F. Kennedy and has been continued by all subsequent Presidents. Statutory authority for the program is Section 112, Title 38, of the United States Code.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the PMC program by preparing the certificates which bear the current President’s signature expressing the country’s grateful recognition of the veteran’s service in the United States Armed Forces.
Eligible recipients include the next of kin and loved ones of honorably discharged deceased veterans. More than one certificate may be provided.
Eligible recipients, or someone acting on their behalf, may apply for a PMC in person at any VA regional office or by U.S. mail or toll-free fax. Requests cannot be sent via email. Please be sure to enclose a copy of the veteran's discharge and death certificate to verify eligibility, as it cannot be processed without proof of honorable military service. Please submit copies only, as original documents will not be returned.
VA Form 40-0247 Application for Presidential Memorial Certificate
Retiree Burial Benefits
In general, retirees are not authorized mortuary benefits at Government expense by virtue of their retired status. They may, however, be authorized certain benefits due to another status. For example, a retiree employed as a Department of the Army civilian (DAC) could qualify for preparation of remains and shipment of remains from overseas by military aircraft. Military service could qualify a retiree for burial in a Government cemetery, a grave marker, and burial honors.
Retirees are not eligible for the full range of mortuary benefits at Government expense unless, while on active duty for a period of more than 30 days, they become an inpatient in a U.S. government hospital, are retired while an inpatient, and die before being discharged from the hospital.
Retirees who retire under circumstances other than in a above are not entitled to mortuary benefits at Government expense by virtue of their retired status.
Retirees and their eligible family members who die outside the United States may be eligible for preparation of remains on a reimbursable basis for a nominal fee in an Armed Services mortuary if such services are available at the place of death and are requested by the U.S. Department of State. Requests should be made by a family member or representative of the family directly to the American Consular office in the country of death. Transportation of the remains to the preparing mortuary, casket, permits and fees, and further transportation of remains must be paid from private funds.
Transportation of Retirees Remains
Retirees who die while properly admitted to a military medical facility in the United States are authorized transportation of remains from the place of death to the place of burial, providing the place of burial is no further than the retiree's last residence.
When the place of death and place of burial are local to the residence, transportation is authorized for the removal of the remains from the place of death to a local funeral home and from the local funeral home to a local cemetery.
Transportation of the remains may not be to a place outside the United States.
Transportation of remains of eligible family members of retired soldiers who die in a military medical facility in the United States is also authorized. The installation mortuary officer at the place of death should be consulted on the status of implementation of this benefit.
Remains of retirees are authorized transportation of remains from overseas to the United States on U.S. military aircraft on a reimbursable or space available basis.
Retirees who die in a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital or nursing home may be eligible for transportation of remains by VA. The local VA office should be contacted for eligibility rules.
National Cemeteries Eligibility
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 conditions other than dishonorable and have completed the required period of service. 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 dependent, minor children of eligible veterans and of armed forces members also may be buried in a national cemetery.
For a listing of national cemeteries, visit the
Department of Veterans Affairs Website
State Veteran Cemeteries
Many states have established state veterans cemeteries. Eligibility is similar to Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) national cemeteries, but may include residency requirements. Even though they may have been established or improved with Government funds through VA's State Cemetery Grants Program, state veterans cemeteries are run solely by the states. Please contact the specific cemetery for information.
Visit the directory of
state veteran cemeteries
for more information.
In the summer of 1862, George F. Root was putting the finishing touches on the words and music of the "Battle Cry of Freedom" that would be adopted as a national anthem (in different versions) by both the Union and the Confederacy. It was the second summer of a terrible war that few had believed would last more than several months. Thousands had already died at places like Wilson's Creek, Bull Run, Shiloh, and Fort Donelson.
On July 17 of that year, Congress enacted legislation that authorized the President to purchase "cemetery grounds" to be used as national cemeteries "for soldiers who shall have died in the service of the country." Fourteen cemeteries were established that first year, including one in the sleepy Maryland town of Sharpsburg where 4,476 Union soldiers were laid to rest after the one day of terrible slaughter that was the Battle of Antietam. (By way of comparison, approximately 3,000 Americans, British and Canadians died on June 6, 1944, in the invasion of Normandy).
By 1870, the remains of nearly 300,000 Union dead had been buried in 73 national cemeteries. Most of the cemeteries were located in the southeast, near the battlefields and campgrounds of the Civil War. After the war, Army crews scoured the countryside to locate the remains of soldiers who had died in battle. They were buried with honor in the new national cemeteries, which were enclosed by brick walls and entered by means of ornate gates. Tragically, however, the identities of nearly half of those who died in service to the Union and are buried in national cemeteries are unknown.
The National Cemetery Administration has evolved slowly since the initial period of great challenge associated with the Civil War. All honorably discharged veterans became eligible for burial in 1873. Cemeteries associated with military posts on the western frontier, such as Fort McPherson, Nebraska, were added to the system in the late 19th century.
In the 1930s, new national cemeteries were established to serve veterans living in major metropolitan areas such as New York, Baltimore, Minneapolis, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Antonio. Several, closely associated with battlefields such as Gettysburg, were transferred to the National Park Service because of their value in interpreting the historical significance of the battles. In 1973, Public Law 93-43 authorized the transfer of 82 national cemeteries from the Department of the Army to the Veterans Administration, now the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Joining with 21 VA veterans cemeteries located at hospitals and nursing homes, the National Cemetery System comprised 103 cemeteries after the transfer.
On November 11, 1998, the President signed the Veterans Programs Enhancement Act of 1998 changing the name of the National Cemetery System (NCS) to the National Cemetery Administration (NCA).
Today, there are 141 national cemeteries in all. VA, through its National Cemetery Administration, administers 125 of them. Two national Cemeteries—Arlington and Soldiers Home—are still administered by the Army. Fourteen national cemeteries are maintained by the Department of the Interior.
More than 3 million Americans, including veterans of every war and conflict—from the Revolutionary War to the Gulf War—are honored by burial in VA's national cemeteries. Approximately 17,000 acres of land from Hawaii to Maine, and from Alaska to Puerto Rico are devoted to the memorialization of those who served this nation. More than 300 recipients of the Medal of Honor are buried in VA's national cemeteries.
In April 2007, VA opened its 125th cemetery—South Florida VA National Cemetery. Currently 65 VA cemeteries (in 34 states) are able to provide the full range of service to America's veterans and their families. An additional 21 provide burial for family members already buried and they can also bury cremated remains.
In 1999 and 2003, with the passage of two laws, Congress directed VA to establish 12 new national cemeteries. One has been opened in Oklahoma, one in Pennsylvania, one in Michigan, one in Georgia, one in California, and one in Florida. The rest – one in Alabama, one in California, two in Florida, one in Pennsylvania and one in South Carolina – will be located near large populations of veterans who currently do not have access to a burial option.
In addition to providing a gravesite and a graveliner, VA opens and closes the grave, provides a headstone or marker, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, a U.S. Flag, and perpetually cares for the grave at no cost to the veteran's family.
Today, more than 24 million veterans and Reservists and National Guard members with 20 years qualifying service (who are entitled to retired pay or would be entitled, if at least 60 years of age), have earned the honor of burial in a national cemetery. Veterans with discharges other than dishonorable, their spouses and dependent children may be eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery. Those who die on active duty may also be buried in a national cemetery.
When Death Occurs