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Burial and Survivor Benefits for Veterans

Learn about burial and survivor benefits for veterans and how to access them.

Burial Benefits, Death Benefits, and Memorial Items for Veterans

Veterans can receive military funeral honors and memorial items whether they’re interred in a veterans cemetery or a private one.

If you’re a veteran and your discharge was not dishonorable, you can probably be buried in a national veterans cemetery. Arlington National Cemetery has stricter eligibility rules than other national cemeteries.  

Military Funeral Honors and Memorial Items 

Almost all veterans can receive military funeral honors at no cost. They are also usually eligible for free memorial items including:

  • Headstones, markers, and medallions

  • Burial flag

  • Presidential Memorial Certificate

Learn how to apply for veterans memorial items.

Veterans Burial Benefits and Death Benefits at Private Cemeteries

Veterans buried in private cemeteries can receive military funeral honors and memorial items. 

The veteran’s family or representative can apply for a veterans burial allowance (or veterans death benefit), in certain cases. These include veterans receiving a VA pension or compensation. The burial allowance can help pay for burial, funeral, and transportation costs. It can't be used for cremation, which is a funeral director service. 

Eligibility for Burial in National and State Veterans Cemeteries

VA National Cemeteries

Eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery is typically open to a:

  • Veteran of the armed forces

  • Service member who died while on active duty

  • Veteran’s spouse

  • Veteran’s minor child

See an interactive map and list of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemeteries. 

Apply in advance to learn if you qualify for burial in a VA national cemetery.  If you do qualify, you’ll get the confirmation in a pre-need decision letter.

Arlington National Cemetery

Eligibility for Arlington National Cemetery is different. Only active duty, military retirees, former prisoners of war, and recipients of the Purple Heart and other top awards can be buried there. But other veterans may be eligible for above-ground inurnment. 

Spouses and minor children of eligible service members and veterans can be buried at Arlington too.

State Veterans Cemeteries

Requirements for burial in a state veterans cemetery are like those for VA cemeteries. They may also have residency requirements. 

See a list of state and territory veterans cemeteries. 

Schedule a Burial for a Veteran or Family Member

Schedule a Burial at a National Cemetery

If the veteran or spouse confirmed their eligibility in advance and received a pre-need decision letter, call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-800-535-1117 to start your request. 

If eligibility was not pre-determined, that will have to happen first. See the steps for scheduling a burial at a VA national cemetery.

Schedule a Burial at Arlington National Cemetery

To schedule a burial at Arlington National Cemetery, call the ANC customer service center, 1-877-907-8585. 

Schedule a Burial at a State Veterans Cemetery

The VA does not manage burials at state, territorial, or tribal veterans cemeteries. Contact the cemetery directly.

Life Insurance and Survivor Benefits for Service Members and Veterans

Get information on military life insurance and learn how your family can get survivor benefits. 

SGLI and VGLI

Survivor Benefits Plan for Military Retirees

Your pension ends when you die unless you sign up for a survivor benefit plan when you retire. The plan offers a monthly annuity for your survivors. 

If you’re the survivor of a:

Benefits for Survivors of Veterans

You may qualify for survivor benefits from the VA if you are the survivor or dependent of a: 

  • Service member or veteran whose death was service-connected
  • Veteran whose total disability was service-connected but their death was not

What Other VA Survivor Benefits Are Available:

  • You may also qualify for CHAMPVA. In this health care program, the VA shares the cost of services and supplies with you if you’re an eligible beneficiary.
  • If you’re a Survivor Benefit Plan beneficiary, you may also be eligible for VA benefits.

For more information, contact the VA.

National Cemeteries

Learn about national and overseas military cemeteries and how to locate a grave in one.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)  maintains more than 100 national cemeteries across the United States and U.S. territories. To find the burial location of a veteran, use the National Gravesite Locator. Most of the cemeteries have a map to help you pinpoint the grave location before you visit. 

The most famous national cemetery is Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) near Washington, D.C. The U.S. Army maintains ANC. Besides searching for military graves there, you can also search for the graves of U.S. presidents and other prominent figures. 

Overseas Military Cemeteries

The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) manages overseas military cemeteries, memorials, monuments, and markers. Most of these sites honor Americans who served in World War I or World War II. The ABMC website can help you:

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Last Updated: November 4, 2019

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