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.
For a listing of national cemeteries, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs Website.
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.
A surviving spouse of an eligible veteran who married a nonveteran prior to Oct. 31, 1990, and whose remarriage was terminated by death or divorce prior to or on that date is eligible for burial in a national cemetery. A surviving spouse of an eligible veteran who married a nonveteran prior to Oct. 31, 1990, and whose remarriage was still intact on or after that date, however, is not eligible for burial in a national cemetery. A surviving spouse who marries a nonveteran after Oct. 31, 1990, is not 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. A weekend caller, however, will be directed to one of three strategically located VA cemetery offices that remain open during weekends to schedule burials at the cemetery of the caller's choice during the upcoming week.
Arlington National Cemetery, which is under the jurisdiction of the Army, has a more limited eligibility than other national cemeteries. Eligibility for inurnment of cremated remains in Arlington's columbarium is the same as eligibility for burial in VA national cemeteries. For information on Arlington burials, write to Superintendent, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA 22211, or telephone 877-907-8585.
Eligibility criteria similar to VA national cemetery eligibility apply to the two active national cemeteries administered by the Department of the Interior: Andersonville National Cemetery in Georgia and Andrew Johnson National Cemetery in Tennessee. Cemeteries for veterans are operated by many states. For burials in these cemeteries, contact the Interior Department or the applicable state.