Veterans' Burial Benefits Provided by the US Government

Veterans' burial benefits are burial-related benefits that United States Department of Veteran Affairs (the VA) offers to the families of United States veterans. Those benefits were established out of recognition that all veterans performed a valuable service to their county, and that this more than entitles them to be buried with dignity. The veterans' benefits vary somewhat depending on the year of the veteran's death and the location of the burial site. The veteran's spouses and dependants may also qualify for veterans' benefits after the certain circumstances, both before and after the veterans' death.

Who Is Eligible

Veterans' benefits are automatical avaliable to veterans of any branch of the U.S. military who died in the line of duty. Veterans who died under other circumstances are eligible if they were honorably discharged. Veterans who served after September 7, 1980 lose their eligiblity if they served less than 24 months on active duty.

Members of Reserve Components and Reserve Officers' Training Corps are entitled to veterans' burial benefits if they died in the line of duty (active otherwise) or who died as the result of the injuries they sustained in the line of duty. They are also entitled to benefits if they entited to retired pay under Chapter 1223, Title 10 of the United States Code.

United States citizens who served in the armed forces of any country allied with United States when United States was at war are also eligible for veterans' burial benefits. This includes citizens who gained citizenship while serving.

Spouses of active duty veterans are eligible for some of the veterans' burial benefits. Until January 1, 2000, the spouses who remarried to a non-veterans did not qualify for any veterans' burial benefits. That restriction is lifted for any ex-spouse who died after that date. The veterans' minor children and other dependants are eligible for the same benefits as the spouses if they are under 21 or under 23 and pursuing a degree on a full-time basis in any federally approved college or university.

Benefits for Burials in National Cemeteries

National cemeteries are cemeteries operated by the VA. Qualified veterans are entitled to be buried at any national cemetary where space is available. Since 1962, veterans could not reserve spaces in advance, but any reservations made prior to that date will be honored. The veterans will be buried at VA's expense, and, if the family chooses to, with full military honors. The grave will have a government-issued headstone or a marker. Either way, it will automatically include the veteran's full name, branch of service and years of birth and death. It may also include veteran's rank, war service, military decorations, awards, and month and day of birth and death, depending on how much space is available. The surviving family will receive a burial flag and Presidential Memorial Certificate signed by the current president.

Eligible spouses and dependants are entitled to be buried next to the veteran or at any available grave site. Their named and dates of birth will be inscribed on the veterans' head stone. Those benefits apply regardless of whether the veteran is dead or alive at the time of burial.

Benefits for Burial in Private Cemeteries

The government will not pay for the veterans' burials in private cemeteries. The families may be eligible to receive burial allowances that will partially cover the burial costs. The VA will issue a headstone or a market, a burial flag and a Presidential Memorial Certificate free of charge. However, the headstone or market must be requested ahead of time by filling out VA Form 40-1340. Military Funeral Honors will be provided at the burial ceremony at the families' request free of charge.

The spouses and dependants are not eligible for any benefits if they are buried at a private cemetery.