National Cemetery Administration
Historic Headstones and Markers (prior to World War I)
Eligibility criteria for a Government-furnished headstone or marker are provided in Section 2306 of Title 38 of the United States Code (Headstones, Markers, and Burial Receptacles). The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) may furnish a Government headstone or marker for eligible individuals buried in private cemeteries who died prior to November 1, 1990, if the grave is unmarked. VA may furnish a Government headstone or marker for eligible individuals buried in private cemeteries who died on or after November 1, 1990 if the grave is marked with a private headstone or marker.
VA requires detailed primary documentation for proof of military service prior to World War I. This documentation may include Compiled Military Service Records (CMSR), extracts from official State files, Federal pension documents or land warrants. You may obtain copies of CMSRs and Federal pension records through the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). You may order copies of these documents via telephone, by mail, or through the Internet. NARA may charge a fee for these records (depending on whether you request a partial or complete file), and NARA usually ships the documentation in 60–90 days. The papers provided in a partial pension file will generally contain appropriate information to document military service. Fees and time periods are subject to change. For further information, refer to NARA's web page on Pre-World War I military service records at Pre-World War I military service records or by sending the NAFT Form 86 to the addresses listed on the form.
Pension records for Confederate Soldiers/Sailors will not be accepted as proof, of military service.
VA requires documents showing active Federal service to establish eligibility for Veterans of the Revolutionary War, Indian Wars, War of 1812, and the Mexican War. VA will only furnish a headstone or marker for eligible individuals who performed actual national (Federal) service. Members of a state militia are only eligible if their service was Federalized (i.e., called to "active service"). Militia members or patriots with no Federal service are not eligible to receive a Government-furnished headstone or marker.
You must provide VA with proof of burial or disposition of the Veteran's remains and the documentation must be from the Veteran's era confirming the final disposition of the remains.
- Accept interment or burial records from the cemetery, death certificate listing the cemetery name, funeral records listing the cemetery name, obituary notice, Works Progress Administration (WPA) or other surveys conducted by the county/state that list the Veteran as being interred in the cemetery.
- Not accept contemporary burial records, a letter from the cemetery, or records from a non-primary source Internet site (e.g., findagrave.com). Documents submitted not mentioned here or from a primary source Internet site (e.g., smohs.org) will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine if they are acceptable.
Unrecoverable / Unidentifiable Remains
VA will provide a memorial headstone or marker as defined by 38 USC §2306(b)(2)(A). VA will inscribe "IN MEMORY OF" above the Veteran's name on all memorial headstone and markers.
The circumstances surrounding the Veteran's death must be such to reasonably assume the body was unrecoverable or unidentifiable due to burning or drowning, or burial in a mass grave, etc. The fact that the location of the Veteran's grave is unknown is not a sufficient basis for a memorial headstone or marker.
Determining whether a Veteran will receive a memorial marker is based on documentation and evidence, not what is requested on the application.
Additional Inscriptions on Pre-WWI Headstones and Markers
Due to the historic nature of the Pre-WWI headstones and markers, VA will not inscribe additional inscriptions, awards, or terms of endearment.
For periods of war other than the Civil War or Spanish American War, VA will provide traditional styles of headstones and markers. Traditional styles include upright marble (U1) or granite (V1) headstones, and flat granite (G1), flat marble (F1), and flat bronze (B1) markers.
Civil War and Spanish-American War Veterans
There are specific styles of upright marble and granite headstones to mark the graves of Civil War Union and Spanish-American War Veterans. VA will inscribe these historic styles with raised lettering inside a recessed shield. Recessed shield headstones are available in three marble (X) sizes and one granite (Y) size.
The upright marble headstones are:
- Type XA – 12" wide, 3" thick, and 42" long;
- Type XB – 13" wide, 3" thick, and 42" long; and
- Type XC – 10" wide, 3" thick, and 39" long (the XC headstone has grave number, name, and abbreviated state organization only).
The upright granite headstone is:
- Type YA – 13" wide, 3" thick, and 42" long."
Each headstone should be installed with 16" – 18" in the ground.
To request an upright marble recessed shield headstone, check "Upright Marble" in Block 15 and write XA, XB, or XC above it. To request an upright granite recessed shield headstone, check "Upright Granite" in Block 15 and write YA above it. Please note, VA will only order a Type XA headstone when requested to replace a historic headstone in-kind. VA will only furnish the Type XC marble headstone for national, state and tribal Veterans', and military/post cemeteries.
The inscription on the upright marble or granite recessed shield headstone is limited. For Civil War Union and Spanish-American War Veterans, a sunken shield encompasses the name in a semicircle and the abbreviated military organization. The upright marble or granite recessed shield headstone resemble the Government headstones of the era and do not include an Emblems of Belief (EOB) or additional inscription items. VA will inscribe the dates of birth and death, if known, below the sunken shield. When requesting a flat marker, you have an option of the (G1) flat granite, (F1) flat marble or (B1) flat bronze. VA will inscribe an approved EOB (i.e., Christian Cross (01) or the Star of David (03)) at the top of the flat granite and marble maker and between the date of birth and death on the flat bronze marker, only when requested by a lineal or collateral descendant of the decedent.
Confederate States of America (CSA) Soldiers / Sailors
VA will furnish a special style upright marble or granite headstone to mark the graves of eligible Confederate States of America (CSA) soldiers/sailors. This special style is available in marble or granite and has a pointed top and inscribed with the Southern Cross of Honor emblem. To request this special style, select "Upright Marble" or "Upright Granite" in Block 15.
For CSA headstones, VA will inscribe the Southern Cross of Honor, the abbreviated rank (only ranks higher than PVT and OS), the name in a semicircle, the abbreviated military organization, and dates of birth and death (if known). VA will not inscribe any additional information.
For CSA flat markers, VA will inscribe an Emblem of Belief in lieu of the Southern Cross of Honor only when requested by a lineal or collateral descendant of the decedent. VA will inscribe the Southern Cross of Honor, upon request, or if a descendant cannot be located. VA will inscribe the abbreviated rank (only ranks higher than PVT and OS), the name, the abbreviated military organization, and dates of birth and death (if known). VA will not inscribe any additional information.
Soldiers/Sailors who served exclusively in the CSA are not eligible for a memorial headstone or marker, which is inscribed with IN MEMORY OF, or a Presidential Memorial Certificate because they are not Veterans as defined by 38 USC §101(2)(A). Further, 38 USC §101(21) and (10), respectively define "active duty" to include full-time duty in the "Armed Forces" which includes the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard, including their reserve components.
VA will replace a Government-furnished headstone or marker if it meets the criteria defined in 38 CFR § 38.630(b)(3). If the grave is marked with an illegible or damaged private headstone or marker, the applicant must provide VA with military documents to determine eligibility for a Government-furnished replacement.
To request a replacement headstone or marker, the applicant must check "Replacement" in Block 2 and clearly state the reason for the replacement in Block 33, Remarks.
Do not submit a photo with the application. VA will request a color photograph of the existing headstone or marker after the VA Form 40-1330 is received for processing, to verify the condition of the headstone or marker. You may include an email address on the VA Form 40-1330 to expedite this step.
National Cemetery Administration
Attn: General Inquiries
810 Vermont Avenue
Washington, DC 20420
MyVA411 main information line: