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National Cemetery Administration

Committal Service

Upon your arrival at the cemetery you will be met by a cemetery representative who will provide the deceased’s burial documents. The cemetery representative will then lead your procession to the appropriate committal shelter for your service.

A committal shelter at Great Lakes National Cemetery

Viewing facilities are not available and funeral services cannot be held at VA national cemeteries, but a final committal service may be performed. For safety reasons, these services are held in committal shelters located away from the gravesite. Committal services are generally 20 minutes in length which includes the time needed for rendering of military honors. Burial will take place following the committal service.

Floral arrangements may accompany the casket or urn from the committal shelter and will be placed on the grave after burial. You may view your national cemetery’s floral policy by visiting their website

All Veterans interred at a national cemetery are eligible for a headstone or marker. It normally takes less than 60 days following a burial for the headstone or marker to be completed and in place. A headstone or marker will be ordered by cemetery personnel upon inscription approval by the next of kin and a burial flag will be provided.

Upright headstones are standard in most national cemeteries, however, some have both upright headstone and flat marker sections and in some cases above ground columbarium niches for cremated remains. Be sure to discuss these options with the cemetery representative prior to burial.

The same procedures are followed if the Veteran's eligible spouse or dependent predeceases the Veteran. In most cases, one gravesite is provided for the burial of all eligible family members and a single headstone or marker is provided. When both spouses are Veterans, two gravesites and two headstones or markers may be provided if requested.

Gravesites are assigned and cannot be selected in advance. Assignments are made without regard to rank, ethnic or religious background, branch of service or other factors. A husband and wife are interred in the same plot unless both were Veterans. In that case, they may be buried side by side in separate plots. Cremated remains are buried in the ground in specially designated sections of the cemetery or in above ground columbaria.

The Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for providing Military Funeral Honors.  The DOD program, "Honoring Those Who Served," calls for funeral directors to request military funeral honors on behalf of the Veterans' families. Veterans' organizations may assist in the provision of military funeral honors. In support of this program, VA national cemetery staff may assist to coordinate military funeral honors.