Burial and Memorial Benefits

Regular Army: Active Duty

Benefit Fact Sheet

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Summary:

Soldiers who die while on active duty and Veterans discharged under conditions other than dishonorable may be eligible for the following Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) burial benefits: (1) burial in a VA national cemetery; (2) government-furnished headstone or marker; (3) Presidential Memorial Certificate; (4) burial flag; and in some cases, (5) reimbursement of certain burial expenses. The Soldier's surviving Spouse, dependent Children, and, under certain conditions, unmarried adult Children, may be eligible for burial in a national cemetery.

Eligibility:

Burial in a Veterans Affairs Cemetery and associated benefits are generally available to any Soldier who dies while on active duty. The eligible Soldier's surviving Spouse (Widow or Widower), dependent Children, and, under certain conditions, unmarried adult Children, may be eligible for burial. To confirm your eligibility for burial benefits, please call a Veteran's Benefits Counselor at: 1-800-827-1000 or visit the web site at www.cem.va.gov

Burial in Arlington National Cemetery is available to Soldiers who die on Active Duty (except those on active duty for training only), and certain other Veterans who meet specific eligibility criteria. For more information on eligibility for Arlington National Cemetery click here

Benefit Highlights:

Burial in VA National Cemeteries: VA provides Veterans and Family members a variety of gravesite options for burial, though choices are limited to those available at a specific cemetery. These options may include in-ground casket burial, or internment of cremated remains in a columbarium, in-ground, or in a scatter garden.

Government Furnished Headstones or Markers: Upon request, the VA furnishes (at no charge to the applicant) a government headstone or marker for the grave of any deceased eligible Veteran in any cemetery around the world. Flat markers (granite, marble, or bronze) and upright headstones (granite or marble) are available. The style chosen must be consistent with existing monuments at the place of burial. Niche markers are also available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains.

Presidential Memorial Certificates: The Presidential Memorial Certificate is an engraved paper certificate with an 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 current President. Certificates signed by the president are issued upon request to recognize the military service of honorably discharged deceased Veterans. Eligible recipients include next of kin, and other loved ones. The award of a certificate to one eligible recipient does not preclude certificates to other eligible recipients.

Burial Flags: A United States flag is provided, at no cost, to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased Veteran who served honorably in the Army. The flag is furnished to honor the memory of a Veteran's military service to the United States of America. Generally, the flag is given to the next-of-kin as a keepsake after its use during the funeral service. When there is no next-of-kin, VA will furnish the flag to a friend making request for it. Families of Veterans buried in national cemeteries with an avenue of flags may donate the burial flags of their loved ones to be flown on patriotic holidays.

VA Burial Allowances: VA burial allowances are partial reimbursements of an eligible Veteran's burial and funeral costs. When the cause of death is not service related, the reimbursements are generally described as two payments:
(1) a burial and funeral expense allowance, and (2) a plot or interment allowance.

You may be eligible for a VA burial allowance if:

  • You paid for a Veteran's burial or funeral, AND
  • You have not been reimbursed by another government agency or some other source, such as the deceased Veteran's employer, AND
  • The Veteran was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, AND
    • The Veteran died because of a service-related disability, OR
    • The Veteran was receiving VA pension or compensation at the time of death, OR
    • The Veteran was entitled to receive VA pension or compensation, but decided not to reduce his/her military retirement or disability pay, OR
    • The Veteran died while hospitalized by VA, or while receiving care under VA contract at a non-VA facility, OR
    • The Veteran died while traveling under proper authorization and at VA expense to or from a specified place for the purpose of examination, treatment, or care, OR
    • The Veteran had an original or reopened claim pending at the time of death and has been found entitled to compensation or pension from a date prior to the date or death, OR
    • The Veteran died on or after October 9, 1996, while a patient at a VA-approved state nursing home.

What the VA will pay:

  • Service-Related Death. VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for deaths on or after September 11, 2001. If the Veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, some or all of the cost of transporting the deceased may be reimbursed.
  • Non-service-Related Death. For deaths on or after October 1, 2011, VA will pay up to $700 toward burial and funeral expenses (if hospitalized by VA at time of death), or $300 toward burial and funeral expenses (if not hospitalized by VA at time of death), and a $700 plot-interment allowance (if not buried in a national cemetery). If the death happened while the Veteran was in a VA hospital or under VA contracted nursing home care, some or all of the costs for transporting the Veteran's remains may be reimbursed. An annual increase in burial and plot allowances, for deaths occurring after October 1, 2011, begins in fiscal year 2013 based on the Consumer Price Index for the preceding 12-month period.

Additional Information:

For more information, please visit the Burial and Memorial Benefits webpage maintained by VA:
http://www.cem.va.gov/

Burial Benefits:
http://benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-special-burial.asp

Army Casualty and Mortuary Affairs:
https://www.hrc.army.mil/TAGD/CMAOC

Department of Veterans Affairs Survivor and Eligible Dependents Webpage:
http://www.va.gov/opa/persona/dependent_survivor.asp

Arlington National Cemetery: 
http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil

Document Review Date: 7 April 2014