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National Cemetery Administration


VA celebrates 50 years of the National Cemetery Administration

September 21, 2023

WASHINGTON — This month, VA is celebrating 50 years of the National Cemetery Administration (NCA). Since 1973, NCA has ensured that Veterans, service members, and their families are honored with a final resting place that pays tribute to their service. Nearly 5.3 million people — including 4 million Veterans from the Revolutionary War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — are buried in VA national cemeteries.

VA commemorated NCA's 50th anniversary today in a ceremony at the newly-renamed National Memorial Cemetery at Quantico. At the ceremony, NCA changed the name of the cemetery from the Quantico National Cemetery to the National Memorial Cemetery at Quantico, which better reflects the availability of the cemetery to all Veterans and their family members — not just those who served at Marine Corps Base Quantico.

"For the past 50 years, VA's National Cemetery Administration has provided our nation's heroes with final resting places that honor their service, keep their memories alive, and preserve their legacies long after they pass away," said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. "It's our privilege to serve these heroes with honor and respect, just like they served our country."

While the National Cemetery System dates back to the American Civil War, VA stewardship of national cemeteries began in 1973. Over the last 50 years, NCA has developed and expanded burial and memorial options, so that more Veterans and their families can utilize their earned memorial benefits. Since 1973, NCA has:

  • Improved Veteran access to VA burial benefits by opening 53 new national cemeteries and establishing the Veterans Cemetery Grant Program to support state, territory and tribal cemeteries, which today number 122.
  • Provided more than 15 million headstones and markers to national, state, Tribal and private cemeteries.
  • Delivered 16 million Presidential Memorial Certificates to the loved ones of deceased Veterans.
  • Launched the Veterans Legacy Memorial, the country's first digital platform dedicated entirely to the preservation of the memory of the 4.8 million Veterans interred in VA National Cemeteries; VA grant-funded tribal, state, and territory Veteran cemeteries; DOD-managed cemeteries (including Arlington National Cemetery); and two U.S. Park Service National Cemeteries.
  • Established the Veterans Legacy Program (VLP), allowing partnerships with local universities, secondary schools, and non-profits to use cemeteries as platforms for public education. VLP programs have engaged nearly 15,000 students and produced over 2,500 Veteran biographies, 50 documentary videos and over 100 lesson plans.
  • Led all organizations, public or private, in the prestigious American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) seven times in a row. In 2022, NCA received a score of 97, the highest score ever achieved by any organization rated by the ACSI.

Learn more about NCA's 50th anniversary.