& Burial Benefits
Including Spouses and Dependents
All veterans are entitled to burial in a
national cemetery, a grave marker (regardless of the cemetery), and a flag.
Spouses and dependent children are also entitled to a lot and marker but only in
a national cemetery. There will be no charges for opening or closing the grave,
a vault or liner, or setting the marker in a national cemetery. Depending on the
circumstances, a family will be responsible for all other expenses including
transportation to the cemetery.
- Death during active duty.
All funeral expenses will be paid
by the military—body preparation, casket, transportation to the place of
disposition, interment (if in a national cemetery), and marker. In addition,
next-of-kin are entitled to a "death gratuity" of $6,000.
- Death due to a service related injury.
There is a $2,000
"burial allowance" for these veterans which may be used to cover some of the
funeral director's expenses, the casket, and transportation to the cemetery.
IF death occurred in a VA facility, transport of the body to the cemetery will
be paid, provided it is no farther than the last place of residence.
If burial is not in a national cemetery, there is a $300 "interment
allowance," but it is unlikely that will cover opening and closing or vault
charges, let alone the cost of the lot. Although a marker is available at no
charge, the private cemetery will probably have a setting fee.
- Non-service-related death in a VA facility OR while collecting a VA
pension or disability compensation.
There is a $300 "burial allowance"
which may be used to defray some of the usual funeral expenses. Although
burial in a national cemetery is free to these veterans, all other mortuary
expenses are the responsibility of the family. Transportation to a national
cemetery (not farther than the residence of the deceased) will be provided
only if the death occurs in a VA facility. The $300 interment allowance
applies when burial is in other than a national cemetery.
- Death of a veteran outside a VA facility, not receiving military
pension or compensation.
The $2,000 and $300 benefits do not apply,
nor is there reimbursement for transportation to the cemetery. The lot in a
national cemetery, any required vault, interment, a marker, and flag are the
only burial benefits. If interment is in other than a national cemetery, the
family is responsible for the cost of the lot, opening and closing charges,
the vault, and any fee charged for setting the government marker if that is
selected. The family must also bear all other funeral costs.
Spouse and Dependents
- A spouse and dependents of an eligible veteran are entitled
to burial in a national cemetery even if the veteran is not buried there.
A spouse who remarries a nonveteran and whose marriage ends in death or
divorce may claim burial rights from the prior marriage.
Spouses receiving military pay and who die in a military medical facility
are eligible for military transport to the nearest national cemetery or no
farther than the last permanent residence.
Adult children of veterans are entitled to burial benefits only if disabled
Others Who May be Eligible
- There are a number of others eligible for veterans' burial benefits
if the person has provided military-related service. The list is quite
long and includes civilians who were involved with military efforts during
war-time. Members of the National Guard and Reserves with 20 years of service
are eligible. Some Public Health Service personnel are also eligible. You
should inquire if you believe you might be entitled to such benefits.
Persons Not Eligible
- Remarried spouses wedded to a nonvet
- Divorced spouses
- Adult children
- Parents, siblings and others—even if they are dependents
- Those with a dishonorable discharge
- Those convicted of subversive activities and capital crimes
- Memorials are available to all veterans, spouses, and dependent
children buried in a national cemetery and will be set without charge.
Markers are available for veterans only—not spouse or dependents—for use in
other cemeteries unless the grave has already been marked by a private
memorial. The installation cost must be borne by the family when in a
non-government cemetery. Several styles of markers are available and must be
consistent with existing monuments. Niche markers for cremains are also
Inscription must include name, branch of service, year of birth, year of
death—in this order—and may include emblem of belief, rank, and decorations
earned. At private expense, additional items—such as nick-names and terms of
endearment—may be added but must be approved by the VA.
& Other Information
- You may not reserve space in a national cemetery ahead of time;
arrangements are made only at the time of death. Therefore, there is no
guarantee that spouses will be interred side-by- side.
- Burials in a national cemetery are not usually conducted on weekends.
- National cemeteries provide space for both body burial and cremated
- Check with the cemetery regarding gravesite adornments other than natural
- Military honors or a funeral honor guard may be available from
nearby military installations or veterans groups. Fly-overs are reserved for
those on active duty at the time of death.
- A flag is provided on request for the burial of any veteran. Apply through
the VA and pick up at a U.S. Post Office. Family members may wish to purchase
a flag case for later display, available through private sources.
- Next-of-kin, other relatives or friends may request a "Presidential
Memorial Certificate." More than one may be requested.
- A family may apply directly to the VA for all benefits. Although it may be
convenient to let the undertaker do so, you may wish to ask if the mortician
charges for submitting claims.
- When the body of a veteran without next-of-kin is unclaimed from a VA
facility and the estate is without sufficient assets, the VA will assume
responsibility for burial.
- Other than for sea burial, there are NO casket requirements for routine
body burial. An undertaker handling the unclaimed body of a vet must supply
something more durable than cardboard, unless the body is to be cremated.
- "No-fee" passports are available for family visiting overseas grave-sites
- The National Cemetery System may be asked to do a search to locate anyone
interred in a national cemetery. In addition to general vital statistics, you
will need to know the state from which the veteran entered military service.
- There are STATE-run veterans cemeteries that may offer the same or similar
benefits, with some restrictions. For a listing of VA cemeteries, check
The VA has gotten complaints from vets who were approached by commercial
funeral outfits offering free cemetery lots or other so-called veterans
benefits. They DO NOT represent the U.S. government! Be sure to ask:
- Must you also purchase another lot?
- Where is it located? How much will it cost?
- Is "perpetual care" additional?
- What are the costs for opening and closing each grave?
- Must certain memorials be purchased through the cemetery?
- What are the costs for setting memorials?
- Is a vault required? Even for cremated remains? May it be purchased
- Are there marker or planting restrictions?
- What are the "administrative" charges?
- Who owns the cemetery? Are there nearby municipal or religious cemeteries
which charge less for the same services?
Burial At Sea
Burial (or the scattering of cremains) at sea is available to all veterans
and dependents, and is provided by the Navy or US Coast Guard. A flag is
required, and—if supplied by the family—can be returned. If supplied by the
Navy, it will not be.
Because sea burials are done at the convenience of the military, the family
may not witness sea burial.
Bodies waiting for sea burial must be embalmed to a state of preservation
that will last for at least 60 days. (This is accomplished with undiluted
embalming fluid; "stiff.")
A nonsealing metal casket must be used, bound with six bands of nylon. The
casket must carry 150 lbs. of extra weight.
Two-inch holes (20 total) must be drilled in the top, bottom,
and at each end:
Information Provided by
Cremation Society of Los Angeles
6427 So. Eastern Avenue
Bell Gardens, California 90201
License # FD 1694
VETERANS BURIAL AND CREMATION
Please Call For
Information or Assistance
1 (800) 615-5501
Available 24 Hours Every Day
To reach the regional Veterans office in your area,