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VA BENEFITS 800-827-1000      HEADSTONES AND MARKERS   800 - 697 - 6947


Burial in VA National Cemeteries

Periods of Wartime Service

Headstones and Markers

Presidential Memorial Certificates

Burial Flags

Reimbursement of Burial Expenses

Military Funeral Honors

Important Phone Numbers






Burial at Sea

The US Navy will provide a burial at sea service at no cost for any veteran with an honorable discharge and their spouse for no cost. Here is an actual service for Joseph Battaglia. After the service, the family usually receives from the US Navy, the flag used in the service, a video of the service, shells from the 21 gun salute, and a map of the latitude and longitude of the burial at sea.

Burial in National Cemeteries Eligibility

Service members who die while on active duty and veterans discharged under conditions other than dishonorable may be eligible for the following VA burial benefits: (1) burial in a VA national cemetery; (2) government-furnished headstone or marker; (3) Presidential Memorial Certificate; (4) burial flag; and in some cases, (5) reimbursement of burial expenses. With certain exceptions, service beginning after Sept. 7,1980, as an enlisted person, and after Oct.16, 1981, as an officer, must be for a minimum of 24 consecutive months or the full period for which the person was called to active duty to establish burial benefits eligibility. Reservists and National Guard members are eligible if they were entitled to retired pay at the time of death, or would have been entitled had they not been under the age of 60.

Certain Filipino veterans of World War II, to include those who served in the Philippine Commonwealth Army (USAFFE) or recognized guerilla forces, may be eligible if the veteran, at the time of death, was a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States who had resided in the United States.

Persons convicted of a federal or state capital crime, and sentenced to death or life imprisonment without parole, are barred from receiving VA burial benefits.

Burial in VA National Cemeteries

VA provides veterans and dependents a variety of gravesite options for burial, though choices are limited to those available at a specific cemetery. These may include a full casket burial, or columbarium or in-ground niche for cremated remains. A limited number of national cemeteries also provide a scatter garden for dispersing cremated remains.

Gravesites in national cemeteries cannot be reserved, however VA will honor reservations made under previous programs. The funeral director or the next of kin makes internment arrangements for an eligible veteran or dependent at the time of need by contacting the national cemetery in which burial is desired. VA normally does not conduct burials on weekends. However, weekend callers will be directed to a national cemetery that can schedule burials for the following week. See the VA Facilities section of this book to locate a national cemetery.

Spouses and minor children of service members and eligible veterans also may be buried in a national cemetery. If a surviving spouse of an eligible veteran remarries, and that marriage is terminated by death or dissolved by annulment or divorce, the surviving spouse is eligible for burial in a national cemetery. Burial of minor children of eligible persons is limited to unmarried children under 21 years of age, or under 23 years of age if pursuing a full-time course of instruction at an approved educational institution. Eligible veterans' unmarried adult children who became physically or mentally disabled and incapable of self-support before reaching the age of 21, or 23 if a full-time student, also are eligible for burial.

Periods of Wartime Service

Mexican Border - May 9, 1916 to April 5, 1917

World War I -April 6, 1917 to Nov. 12, 1918

World War I - Service in Russia - April 6, 1917 to April 1, 1920

World War II - Dec. 7, 1941 to Dec. 31, 1946

Korea - June 27, 1950 to Jan. 31, 1955

Vietnam - Aug. 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975

Gulf War -Aug. 2, 1990 to date to be announced

Headstones and Markers

Flat bronze, granite or marble markers and upright granite and marble headstones are available. In the case of national cemeteries, the style chosen must be consistent with existing monuments at the place of burial. Niche markers also are available to mark columbaria used for internment of cremated remains. Government-furnished headstones and markers must be inscribed with the name of the deceased, branch of service, and the year of birth and death, in this order. Headstones and markers also may be inscribed with other items, including an authorized emblem of belief and, space permitting, additional text including military grade, rate or rank, war service (such as 'World War II"), complete dates of birth and death, military awards, military organizations and civilian or veteran affiliations. When burial or memorialization is in a national, state or military veterans cemetery, the headstone or marker must be ordered through cemetery officials. To apply and to obtain specific information on available styles, contact the cemetery where the headstone or marker is to be placed.

When burial occurs in a private cemetery, an application for a government-furnished headstone or marker must be made to VA. The government will ship the headstone or marker free of charge, but will not pay for its placement. Headstones and markers previously provided by the government may be replaced at government expense if badly deteriorated, illegible, stolen or vandalized. Eligible service members and veterans buried in private cemeteries, whose deaths occurred on or after Sept. 11, 2001, may receive a government-furnished headstone or marker regardless of whether the grave is already marked with a non-government marker.

To apply, mail a completed VA form 40-1330. Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker for Installation in a Private or State Veterans Cemetery, along with a copy of the veteran's military service discharge document to Memorial Programs Service (402E), Department of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, 20420-0001. Or fax documents to 1-800-455-7143. Do not send original discharge documents because they will not be returned. For information and application instructions, visit (http://www.cem.va.gov).

VA also provides memorial headstones and markers, bearing the inscription "In Memory of" as their first line, to memorialize eligible veterans whose remains were not recovered or identified, were buried at sea, donated to science or cremated and scattered. Eligible dependents may be memorialized only in a national or state veterans cemeteries. To be memorialized, dependents do not need to outlive the veteran from whom their eligibility is based. Memorial headstones or markers must be placed in national, state veterans, local or private cemeteries. VA supplies and ships memorial headstones and markers free of charge for placement in state, local and private cemeteries, but does not pay for their plots or placement.

Presidential Memorial Certificates

Certificates signed by the president are issued upon request to recognize the military service of honorably discharged deceased veterans. Next of kin, other relatives and friends may request Presidential Memorial Certificates in person at any VA regional office or by mail: Presidential Memorial Certificates (402E), National Cemetery Administration, 810 Vermont Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20420-0001. There is no pre-printed form to complete or time limit for requesting these certificates, but requests should include a copy, not the original, of the deceased veteran's discharge document and clearly indicate to what address the certificate should be sent. Additional information and a sample certificate can be found on the internet (http:cem.va.gov/ pmc.htm).

Burial Flags

VA will furnish a United States burial flag for memorialization of:

(1) Veterans who served during wartime, or served after Jan. 31, 1955.

(2) Veterans who were entitled to retired pay for service in the reserves, or would have been entitled to such pay but not for being under 60 years of age.

(3) Members or former members of the Selected Reserve who served at least one enlistment or, in the case of an officer, the period of initial obligation, or were discharged for disability incurred or aggravated in line of duty, or died while a member of the Selected Reserve.

Reimbursement of Burial Expenses

VA will pay a burial allowance up to $2,000 if the veteran's death is service-connected. In some instances, VA also will pay the cost of transporting the remains of a service-disabled veteran to the national cemetery nearest the home of the deceased that has available gravesites. In such cases, the person who bore the veteran's burial expense may claim reimbursement from VA. There is no time limit for filing reimbursement claims in service-connected death cases.

VA will pay a $300 burial and funeral expense allowance for veterans who, at the time of death, were entitled to receive pension or compensation or would have been entitled to compensation but for receipt of military retirement pay. Eligibility also may be established when death occurs in a VA facility, a nursing home under VA contract or a state veterans nursing home. Additional costs of transportation of the remains may be paid. In non service-connected death cases, claims must be filed within two years after permanent burial or cremation.

VA will pay $300 plot allowance when a veteran is not buried in a cemetery under U.S. government jurisdiction under these circumstances: the veteran was discharged from active duty because of disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty: the veteran was in receipt of compensation or pension or would have been except for receiving military retired pay; or the veteran died in a VA facility.

The $300 plot allowance may be paid to the state if a veteran is buried without charge for the cost of a plot or internment in a state-owned cemetery reserved solely for veteran burials. Burial expenses paid by the deceased's employer of a state agency will not be reimbursed. For information on monetary benefits, call 1 -800-827-1000. Additional information about burial and memorial benefits may be obtained at any VA national cemetery, regional office or on the internet (http://www.cem.va.gov/). To check on the status of an application for headstone or marker, call 1 -800-697-6947.

Military Funeral Honors

Upon request, DoD will provide military funeral honors for the burial of military members and eligible veterans. Basic military funeral honors consists of the folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of Taps by a bugler, if available, or by electronic recording. A funeral honors detail to perform this ceremony consists of two or more uniformed members of the armed forces, with at least one member from the service in which the deceased veteran served.

Military members on active duty or in the Selected Reserve are eligible for military funeral honors. Also eligible are former military members who served on active duty and departed under conditions other than dishonorable, former members of the Selected Reserve who completed at least one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service and departed under conditions other than dishonorable, and former military members discharged from the Selected Reserve due to a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.

The Department of Defence maintains a toll-free telephone line (1 -877-MIL-HONR) for use by funeral directors only to request honors. Family members should inform their funeral director if they desire funeral honors for a veteran. VA national cemetery staff can help arrange for honors during burials at VA national cemeteries. Veterans service organizations or volunteer groups may help provide honors. For more information, visit the military funeral honors Web page (http://www.militaryfuneralhonors.osd.mil).

Veterans' Cemeteries Administered by Other Agencies Arlington National Cemetery Administered by the Department of the Army. Eligibility for burial is more restrictive than at VA national cemeteries. For information, visit (http://www.arlingtoncemetery.org/), write Superintendent, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA 22211, or call 703-607-8585.

Department of the Interior: The Department of the Interior administers two active national cemeteries: Andersonville National Cemetery in Georgia and Andrew Johnson National Cemetery in Tennessee. Eligibility for burial is similar to VA cemetery eligibility.

State Veterans Cemeteries: Individual states operate cemeteries for veterans. Eligibility requirements may differ from those for national cemeteries. Contact the state cemetery or state veterans affairs office for additional information. http://www.cem.va.gov/

Important Phone Numbers

For information on:   Call:

VA Benefits                                   1-800-827-1000

Health Benefits                              1-877-222-8387

Education Benefits                       1-888-442-4551

Life Insurance                                1-800-669-8477

Debt Management                        1-800-827-0648

Mammography Hotline                 1-888-492-7844

Telecommunications Device

for the Deaf (TDD)                        1-800-829-4833

CHAMPVA                                    1-800-733-8387

Headstone and Markers              1-800-697-6947

Special Health Issues:

Gulf War, Agent Orange,

Project 112/Shad                           1-800-749-8387

Health Eligibility Center                 404-235-1257

2857 Clairmont Rd. #200                or

Atlanta, GA 30329                         1-800-929-8387

This VA Federal Benefit booklet and other information is available on VA's World Wide Web Home Page at:http://www.va.gov/opa/publications/benefits_book.asp

National Toll Free for U.S., Alaska, HI, PR, & VI 800-827-1000


Because of space limitations, burial in Arlington National Cemetery is restricted to a very few categories of those who have served honorably in the Armed Forces. These include:


Those who have died on active duty.


Those veterans who are retired from active military service.


Those veterans who are retired for disability.


Those veterans who are retired from the Reserves upon meeting the following criteria:

a. Reached age 60 and drawing retired pay.

b. Served a period of active duty (other than for training).


Veterans rated at 30% or greater disabled on the day of discharge (or the following day) and the discharge was prior to October 1,1949.


Holders of the Nation's highest military decorations (Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Air Force Cross or Navy Cross; Distinguished Service Medal; and Silver Star) or the Purple Heart.


Certain POW's who died on or after November 30, 1993.


The spouse or unmarried minor (under 21) child of any of the above or of any person already buried in Arlington. An unmarried dependent student qualifies up to age 23.


An unmarried adult child with physical or mental disability acquired before age 21.


Provided certain special requirements are met, a veteran who is the parent, brother, sister or child of an eligible person already interred.

Those Not Eligible

Except as indicated above, parents, brothers, sisters or in-laws are not eligible, even if they are dependents of an eligible person. Neither is the remarried widow or widower of an eligible person, unless she/he is no longer married at death. A person whose last discharged was less-than-honorable is also ineligible.

Space Assignment

Cemetery personnel will assign a gravesite when interment is requested. Only one gravesite will be assigned per family. No site can be reserved before actual need.

If the spouse or eligible child of a primary eligible dies first, space will be assigned for the spouse's or child's interment provided the primary eligible agrees in writing to be buried in the same site.


In April of 1980, the first 5,000-niche section of Arlington National Cemetery's Columbarium for cremated remains was opened for use. Eventually 50,000 niches will be provided. The Columbarium is located in the southeast section of the Cemetery about half a mile from the Memorial Gate.

This leaflet is designed to acquaint you with the Columbarium, to set forth who can be inurned there, and to explain the procedures for securing inurnment.



Because of space limitations, ground burial in Arlington is quite restricted. The criteria for the Columbarium are more liberal, and extend to all honorably discharged veterans. Specifically, those qualifying for inurnment include:


Any member of the Armed Forces who dies on active duty.


Any former member of the Armed Forces who served on active duty (other than for training) and whose last service ended honorably.


Certain reservists and ROTC members who die while on active duty.


Certain former POW's who die on or after November 30,1993.


American members of allied forces whose last service ended honorably.


Certain commissioned officers of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) or of the U.S. Public Health Service.


The spouse or unmarried minor or permanently dependent child of any of the above, or of any person already in the Columbarium. A student qualifies up to age 23.

Those Not Eligible


Parents, brothers, sisters or in-laws — even if they live with, or are dependents of an eligible person.


A person whose last separation from the Armed Forces was under less-than-honorable conditions, even though he or she may receive veteran benefits.


A person who has volunteered for the Armed Forces but has not entered active duty.


A remarried former spouse of a deceased service member (unless the remarriage is terminated by divorce from or death of the second spouse).

Dependents are not eligible unless the primarily eligible person has been or will be inurned in the Columbarium. This does not apply in cases where the primary eligible has been lost or buried at sea or officially determined to be permanently missing or missing in action.

Requesting Interment

The funeral director or other person making arrangements should contact the Interment Office, Arlington National Cemetery. Telephone 703-607-8585. The office is open 7:30 AM-4:00 PM Monday-Friday and 9:00 AM-1:00 PM Saturday. For Phone Calls Only. The cemetery staff will verify the decedent's elegibility from an honorable discharge or equivalent document, or from data supplied by phone. Cremated remains may be taken directly to the cemetery or shipped via the US Post Office to a local funeral director. Remains may not be shipped directly to the Cemetery.

To make arrangements go more smoothly, assemble personal data, discharge papers, and a statement of wishes in advance of need.

Space Assignment

Normally, a family will be allowed one niche in the Columbarium. Each niche accommodates two urns. Should the need arise, an additional niche will be assigned.

A niche will be assigned when inurnment is requested: niches cannot be reserved before actual need, if a spouse or dependent child dies first, he or she may be inurned in the Columbarium provided the primary eligible person agrees to be inurned there as well.


There is no charge for a niche in the Columbarium, nor for the inscribed marble plaque with which each niche is sealed. However, except for active duty personnel, costs of cremation, an urn, services by a funeral director, and transportation of remains to the Cemetery are the responsibility of the family or other party which secures funeral services. The Government pays these costs for those who die on active duty.

Offsetting Benefits

Certain Government benefits can help to defray expenses. These include:


Payment for transportation of the remains of active duty personnel (or dependents) from place of death to final destination.


Burial allowance for veterans. Contact VA for information on eligibly and amount.


Social security burial benefits. Contact the nearest office of the Social Security Administration for details

Military Honors

Cemetery staff will assist in arranging for the rendition of military honors at an inurnment, should the next of kin so request.

Columbarium Plaques

Each niche in the Columbarium will be sealed with a marble plaque inscribed with the names, highest military grades, and years of birth and death of those inurned therein. The plaques are automatically ordered when inurnment is requested, and are provided at no cost. Neither flowers nor other commemorative items are allowed in the Columbarium.


This write up is meant to give you a broad overview. It cannot cover all cases, or every special circumstance, if you need additional information, write:

The Superintendent ATTN: ANNC-A

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington, VA 22211-5003.



Burial at seas is not just a tradition that was practiced by the Navy of old. It is a means of final disposition of cremains and intact remains that is offered to and still utilized by active duty, retired, and honored veterans of all branches of the United States military. Burial at seas services are performed while the vessel is on official maneuvers. Therefore, it is impossible for the family to be present. The family will be notified by the commanding officer of that vessel of the date, time longitude, and latitude of the committal service. Due to operational commitments and ship scheduling, please allow a minimum of 8 weeks for committal to take place.


Deceased individuals eligible for this program are (1) members and returned members of the uniformed services; (2) veterans discharged under honorable conditions; (3) U.S. civilian marine personnel of the Military Sealift Command; and (4) dependents of members, retirees, and veterans of the uniformed services. 


To initiate a Burial At Sea for both cremation and intact remains, the enclosed Burial At Sea Request/Authorization Form must be completed and signed by the primary next of kin or other legally responsible person. In lieu of the request form, a handwritten or typed letter, contained the same information may be used. Additionally, the following documents must accompany this form: (1) a photocopy of the death certificate; (2) the burial/transit permit or cremation certificate; and (3) a copy of the DD Form 214, the discharge certificate, or retirement orders.


Those for whom a burial flag is authorized: The PADD may send a flag with the remains/cremains. At the time of the burial at sea ceremony the flag will be flown on the assigned ship. Following the burial at sea the flag will be returned to the sender.

BURIAL AT SEA FOR CREMAINS      In the case of cremation, the cremains, request/authorization, the documents listed previously, and burial flag are to be forwarded to the Burial At Sea Coordinator at the Naval Hospital or Clinic serving the desired major port of embarkation. Cremains will not be accepted unless they are in an urn or, plastic or metal box to prevent spillage in shipping. It is also recommended that the cremains package be sent via certified mail, return receipt requested.

BURIAL AT SEA FOR CASKETED REMAINS       For intact casketed remains, forward the request/authorization form letter, supporting documents, VA burial flag, and casketed remains to a receiving funeral home that has been employed by the next of kin or shipping funeral home at one of the major ports of embarkation.