The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) grants burial benefits for spouses of veterans. An eligible spouse can receive a free burial space and a free marker. A veteran must be or must have been eligible for burial benefits himself for his spouse to receive burial benefits from the VA.
Veterans who died in service or were active in the military for at least two years straight and were honorably discharged qualify for benefits, as well as veterans who finished an active duty tour. A veteran's spouse is eligible for benefits, even if her husband died and she remarried a person who did not serve in the military.
Two benefits are available for veterans' spouses: a free plot in any of the VA cemeteries in the U.S. and a tombstone or grave marker. The plot can be used for a casket, or cremated remains can be interred; the spouse can be buried separately, alongside or with the veteran. A spouse who dies before an eligible veteran can still receive the burial benefit.
The grave marker or tombstone benefit is only available to spouses buried in a VA, military base or state graveyard dedicated to veterans. Upright headstones and level or bronze-cast markers are available, as of 2011.
The VA does not pay for actual funeral services, such as funeral home viewings, preparation and other ceremonial costs for spouses of veterans. However, the grave is cared for by the VA perpetually, according to the VA.
Plot requests must be made through the National Cemetery Scheduling Office, which determines the veteran's eligibility before passing benefits to a deceased spouse.
A spouse who divorced or had a marriage to an eligible veteran annulled is not able to receive burial benefits. A person who was called on a draft but was never inducted into military service is not eligible for any burial benefits for himself or his family.