To be eligible you must be a veteran discharged or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable who has completed the required period of service, and U.S. Armed Forces members who die on active duty. Spouses and dependent children of eligible living and deceased veterans, and of current and deceased armed forces members, may also be eligible.
Note: The surviving spouse of an eligible veteran who remarried a non-veteran prior to October 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 remarried a non-veteran prior to October 31, 1990, and whose remarriage was intact on or after that date, however, is not eligible for burial in a national cemetery. A surviving spouse who remarries a non-veteran after October 31, 1990, is not eligible for burial in a national cemetery.
Free Burial Grave in a National Cemetery
The United States Government provides free burial in a National Cemetery to all those eligible. This includes the gravesite, opening and closing of the grave, and perpetual care. Many national cemeteries have columbaria niches for the inurnment of cremated remains or special sections for burial of cremated remains.
Listing of National Cemeteries
Free Headstones and Markers
The United States Government provides headstones and markers for the graves of veterans and eligible dependents anywhere in the world which are not already marked. Flat bronze, flat granite, flat marble and upright marble types are available to mark the grave of a veteran or dependent in the style consistent with exiting monuments at the place of burial. Bronze niche markers are also available to mark columbaria in national cemeteries used for inurnment of cremated remains.
Free Burial at Sea
Burial at sea is not just a tradition that was practiced by the Navy of old. It is a means of final disposition of cremains and intact remains that is offered to and still utilized by active duty, retired, and honorable veterans of all branches of the United States military. Burial at sea services are performed while the vessel is on official maneuvers. Therefore, it is impossible for the family to be present. The family will be notified by the commanding officer of that vessel of the date time, longitude, and latitude of the committal service.
Deceased individuals eligible for this program are members of the uniformed services, veterans discharged under honorable conditions, United States civilian marine personnel of the Military Sealift Command, and dependents of members, retirees, and veterans of the uniformed services.
Ports of Embarkation
East Coast Ports
Naval Medical Center
620 John Paul Jones Circle
Portsmouth, Virginia 23708-5100
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport, Rhode Island 02841-5003
Naval Hospital Branch Clinic
Mayport, Florida 32228
West Coast Ports
San Diego, California
San Diego, California 92134-5000
Long Beach, California
Long Beach, California 90822-5199
San Francisco, California
Oakland, California 94627-5000
Bremerton, Washington 98312-5008
Free Presidential Memorial Certificate
The Presidential Memorial Certificate is a parchment with a calligraphic inscription expressing the nation's grateful recognition of the veteran's service. The veteran's name is inscribed, and the certificate bears the signature of the President and the presidential seal in gold foil.
Reimbursement of Burial Expenses
The United States Government provides a $300 burial and funeral expense allowance for veterans who, at the time of death, were entitled to receive pension or compensation or would have been entitled to compensation but for receipt of military retirement pay. Eligibility is also established when death occurs in a Veterans Administration facility or a nursing home which the Veterans Administration contracted, and additional costs of transportation of the remains may be reimbursed in those cases. Claims must be filed within two years after permanent burial or cremation.
Free United States Burial Flag
The United States Government provides an American flag to drape the casket of a veteran who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. After the funeral service, the flag may be given to the next of kin or a close associate of the deceased.
How to Contact the Veterans Administration
National Toll-Free Service
Military veterans and their dependents are entitled to a variety of benefits depending on their circumstances. Contact the Veterans Affairs office to determine what benefits can he claimed and then gather the information required.
Before you can file you will need:
- Certified copy of or original DD214 (Enlisted Record of Separation).
- Certified copy of or original marriage certificate.
- Certified copy of Death Certificate.
- Verification of amount of life insurance you will receive as a result of veteran's death.
- Paid receipts for funeral and cemetery expense.
- Paid receipts for hospital and doctor bills incurred by last illness, if applicable.
- Social Security number for yourself and your dependent children.
If the veteran or yourself was previously married:
- A certified copy of or original divorce decree, or a Death Certificate proving the previous marriage was dissolved by divorce or death.
If there are dependent children:
- For children under the age of 18, or over 18 and still in school, you need certified copies of original birth certificates for each.
- If over 18 and still in school, you will need VA Form 21-674 filled out.
If either of you currently receive Social Security benefits:
- You will need to know the exact amount received for each of you.
If you already have a VA claim number:
- You must furnish the VA with the claim number you have been assigned.
If either of you receive additional income:
- The source and exact amount of the benefit must be reported to the VA.
If you qualify for Social Security benefits, you should go to the Social Security office before going to the Veteran's Administration office.
Once you have all the forms and information that apply to you, call the VA office and make an appointment to file your claim.
Your VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICE Telephone Number is: