The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides funeral and burial benefits to qualifying veterans and their spouses and children. Benefits may include burial plots, headstones, military funeral honors, flag presentation and reimbursement for some private funeral costs. Eligibility and benefit types depend on the veteran's service record. Veterans discharged dishonorably are usually ineligible for funeral benefits. For more information or to schedule a burial, contact the Veterans Administration at 800-535-1117.
Current and former active duty and selected reserve veterans discharged under conditions other than dishonorable may be eligible for military funeral honors. Services include an honor guard of at least two military personnel — one of whom must represent the parent service or branch of the deceased — to perform the flag-folding ceremony and the playing of "Taps." This service is provided at no cost to the family, and most funeral directors will assist you in obtaining this service.
Veterans eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery include, but are not limited to, those who died in active duty or during training, most veterans discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, some reserve or National Guard members and American citizens who served with U.S. allies during wartime. VA national cemetery burials include headstones, perpetual care, an American Flag and a Presidential Memorial Certificate at no cost.
Spouses and dependents of eligible veterans qualify for burial benefits. Surviving spouses and those who preceded the veteran are eligible for VA national cemetery burial. A surviving spouse who remarried a non-veteran and whose death occurred on or after January 1, 2000, is also eligible. Unmarried children under age 21 or under age 23 and enrolled in a qualifying school are eligible for burial benefits. Additionally, unmarried and disabled children over age 21 may be eligible for VA burials.
Veterans with service-related deaths, those eligible for VA benefits and veterans who died in an approved nursing home or VA hospital may receive help with private burials or funeral costs. As of 2010, the VA pays up to $2,000 for service-related deaths on or after September 11, 2001. Deaths occurring prior to that date qualify for up to $1,500 in benefits. Deaths unrelated to military services allow up to $300 in funeral expenses. Deaths that occur after October 1, 2011, may be eligible for $700 for burial and funeral expenses and $700 for internment costs.
- cemetery image by Janet Wall from Fotolia.com