VA takes special care to pay lasting tribute to the memory of veterans who served and sacrificed and that of their families. VA meticulously maintains 134 VA national cemeteries in 39 states and is adding new cemeteries to accommodate veterans and loved ones in their time of need.
In a few years, 95 percent of veterans will have a burial option in an open VA, state or tribal veterans cemetery located within an hour’s drive of their home. Some benefits are also available for veterans who choose burial in a private cemetery.
Veterans with a qualifying discharge are entitled to VA burial benefits. Spouses and dependent children are eligible too, even if they predecease the veteran.
The following burial benefits may be provided:
• Burial in a VA national cemetery: Opening and closing of the grave or burial of cremated remains or placement in an above-ground vault, also called a columbarium; a government furnished grave liner; perpetual care of the gravesite; a headstone or marker with an inscription; a burial flag; a Presidential Memorial Certificate; and transportation of flower arrangements from the committal service shelter to the gravesite
• Burial in a private cemetery: A government headstone, marker, or medallion; a burial flag; and a Presidential Memorial Certificate. Some survivors may also be entitled to VA burial allowances as partial reimbursement for the costs of funerals and burials for eligible Veterans.
Burial in a VA national cemetery
Although burial plots cannot be reserved in advance, you can plan ahead by safeguarding military discharge papers and discussing end-of-life planning with loved ones. Time permitting, it would be useful to review www.cem.va.gov/CEM/burial_benefits/need.asp in advance.
Upon the death of the Veteran or his or her spouse or dependent, family members should locate the veteran’s DD-214 or other discharge papers and the DD-214 form or other discharge papers to 1-866-900-6417 and follow up with a phone call to 1-800-535-1117 to schedule a burial in a VA national cemetery.
The process takes about 10 minutes. Then make arrangements with a funeral home, National Cemetery Scheduling Office or directly with a VA national cemetery. Note that gravesites in a VA National Cemetery cannot be reserved in advance.
Burials in a national cemetery take place during the week and cannot be conducted on a federal holiday.
Burial in a private cemetery.
To prepare for a private cemetery burial, VA suggests families review some questions and complete required forms in advance which are indicated on www.cem.va.gov/cem/burial_benefits/private_cemetery.asp.
Action necessary to receive/apply for the following are:
• Headstone, marker, or medallion: Visit the national cemetery administration headstones, markers, and medallions page to download and fill out VA form 40-1330. Return your completed form with a copy of the Veteran’s DD-214 to: Memorial Programs Service (41B), Department of Veterans Affairs, 5109 Russell Road, Quantico, VA 22134-3903 or fax claims and supporting documents to 1-800-455-7143. If you are submitting more than one claim, fax each claim package (claim and supporting documents) in individual fax transmissions.
• Burial flag: At www.cem.va.gov/burial_benefits/burial_flags.asp download and fill out VA Form 27-2008 from the National Cemetery Administration Burial Flags page. Take the completed form to the funeral director, a VA Regional Office or a U.S. Post Office flag issuing station.
• Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC): Visit the National Cemetery Administration Presidential Memorial Certificates page http://www.cem.va.gov/pmc.asp to download and fill out VA Form 40-0247. Return your completed form with a copy of the veteran’s DD-214 to: Presidential Memorial Certificates (41B3), National Cemetery Administration, 5109 Russell Road, Quantico, VA 22134-3903 or fax them to 1-800-455-7143. Alternatively, order a PMC using the toll-free fax line following the instructions provided at http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/faxpmc.asp.
• VA Burial Allowance: To apply go to www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21P-530-ARE.pdf to download and fill out VA Form 21-530. Mail your completed form with a copy of the veteran’s DD-214, death certificate, paid receipts, and other applicable documentation to the VBA regional office located in your state. Go to www.va.gov/directory/guide/division.asp?dnum=3 to locate the office nearest you. You can also apply online (eBenefits) at https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/homepage
At www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-special-burial.asp, you can learn more about VA Burial Allowances and eligibility. (Source: http://explore.va.gov/memorial-benefits | March 2016)
Thomas Crisp is a retired military officer from Whitmire. His veterans updates can be found weekly in The Newberry Observer.