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
Presidential Memorial Certificate
Veterans Burial Benefits and Death Benefits at Private Cemeteries
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 minor child
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.
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.