Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The VA does not pay for cremation directly. Any item or service obtained from a funeral home will be at the families' expense. Some Veterans' families may be entitled to a burial allowance, which may cover some of these expenses.
Burial benefits available include a gravesite in any of our national cemeteries with available space, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a Government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family.
Some Veterans may also be eligible for Burial Allowances. Cremated remains are buried or inurned in national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains.
You should advise your family of your wishes and where your discharge papers are kept. These papers are very important in establishing your eligibility. Upon request, VA will make eligibility determinations for burial in a VA national cemetery in advance of need. At the time of need your family would contact a funeral home who will assist them with making burial arrangements at the national cemetery. You may wish to make pre-need arrangements with a funeral home.
You can contact the National Archives* to obtain a copy of your discharge papers.
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 U.S. Armed Forces. Learn more.
A Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC) is an engraved paper certificate, signed by the current President, to honor the memory of honorably discharged deceased Veterans.
Complete the appropriate VA Form available here.
Spouses and dependents are not entitled to a Government-furnished headstone or marker in a private cemetery.
The Department of the Army maintains two national cemeteries, the Arlington National Cemetery* and the U.S. Soldiers' & Airmen's Home National Cemetery. Please contact them directly for their eligibility information.
To obtain the status of headstones or markers ordered for national or state cemeteries, please contact the cemetery directly.
Private Cemetery: If more than 60 days have passed since submitting your claim and the grave is still not marked, you should contact the cemetery, funeral home, or other party responsible for accepting delivery of the headstone, marker or medallion to see if they have received it. If they have not received it, you may call our Applicant Assistance Unit between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (ET), Monday through Friday, at 1-800-697-6947.
Contact your national cemetery administration office for assistance. If the Veteran is buried in a private cemetery, contact our Applicant Assistance Office at 1-800-697-6947.
View our Cleaning Government-Furnished Headstones and Markers page that provides information on how to safely clean them.
The VA does not provide burial at sea. If you have any questions about the Burial at Sea program, please contact the United States Navy Mortuary Affairs office toll-free at 1-866-787-0081. Or contact the Department of the Navy* for information.
* External Link Disclaimer:
Links marked with an asterisk ( * ) are external links. By clicking on these links, you will leave the Department of Veterans Affairs website. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked website.
Ivan J. McRae
US Army Air Forces, 2nd Lt.
National Cemetery Administration
Attn: General Inquiries
810 Vermont Avenue
Washington, DC 20420
MyVA411 main information line:
Visit our NCA Mobile Site, designed specifically for your mobile phone or tablet, to find a VA national cemetery or state veterans cemetery and locate a grave in just a few taps.