Burial preparation is a sensitive subject, but as a servicemember, veteran, or military family member you should be aware of your burial benefits before you need them. The following information is presented to assist you in preparing for the loss of a servicemember or veteran.
Burial in a VA National Cemetery
Burial in a national cemetery is based on military service. A copy of an official military discharge document bearing an official seal or other supporting documentation is usually sufficient to determine eligibility for burial.
The VA now allows veterans to find out their eligibility for burial in a VA National Cemetery prior to the time of need. The VA calls this "pre-need determination". To apply, complete and submit to the VA a VA Form 40-10007. This greatly reduces stress on surviving family members. Applicants may indicate a preference for a VA national cemetery on the application form, but a pre-need determination of eligibility does not guarantee burial in a specific VA national cemetery or a specific gravesite. VA assigns gravesites in cemeteries with available space once death has occurred and the burial is scheduled.
At the time of need, the next-of-kin, funeral home or other representative responsible for making final arrangements should contact the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 800-535-1117 to request burial.
If the veteran didn't complete a "pre-need determination" request prior to death, survivors or funeral directors can request burial in a National Cemetery by faxing eligibility documentation to 866-900-6417 or scanning and emailing the information to NCA.Scheduling@va.gov, survivors or funeral directors can also call the VA at 800-535-1117.
Burial in a State Veterans' Cemetery
Every state and territory has veterans' cemeteries, and many have more than one. The rules are different in each state, see our State Veterans' Benefits page for specific information in the state you are interested in.
Burial in a Private Cemetery
If burial will be in a private cemetery and a Government headstone or marker will be requested for the veteran's grave, the family should complete VA Form 40-1330, Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker in advance and place it with the veteran's military discharge papers for use at the time of need.