In the quiet corners of cemeteries around the world, lie the resting places of countless heroes – Veterans who served their nation with dedication and valor. These individuals, who answered the call of duty, now find their final repose under the open sky. Yet, for some, their graves remain unmarked, a quiet testament to their sacrifice.
Enter the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), an institution committed to ensuring that no Veteran's legacy goes unnoticed. In a solemn gesture, the VA offers a program that goes beyond the ordinary – the provision of government-furnished headstones, markers, and medallions for the unmarked graves of eligible Veterans.
In this guide, we'll explore the depths of this program – who is eligible, the history it carries, and the meticulous care with which it is executed. From Veterans discharged under honorable conditions to those whose service spanned decades, the eligibility criteria encompass a wide spectrum, reflective of the diverse lives led by those who served.
|Additional Info||Application For Headstone or Marker|
|Managing Agency||U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs|
The Headstones, Markers, and Medallions for Placement in Private Cemeteries program, administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), is a heartfelt initiative aimed at honoring the service and sacrifice of eligible deceased Veterans. This program offers a dignified and meaningful tribute by providing government-furnished headstones, markers, and medallions to mark the graves of Veterans in private cemeteries worldwide.
Under this program, eligible Veterans who have been honorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces can receive a government-provided headstone or marker, regardless of the date of their death. If a Veteran served on or after April 6, 1917, and their grave already bears a private headstone or marker, they may also be eligible to receive a VA-furnished marker or medallion.
But this is not a mere bureaucratic process; it's a profound way to honor lives lived in service. Whether it's a headstone for a Veteran who served in the trenches, a marker for a hero lost to time, or a medallion adorning an existing memorial, the VA's offerings transcend marble and metal. They are symbols of appreciation, respect, and an unwavering commitment to those who gave their all.
Here are the eligibility criteria for the Headstones, Markers, and Medallions Program:
Any deceased Veteran who received an honorable discharge from the U.S. armed forces, excluding dishonorable discharges, is eligible for this program.
For those who served in the active component of the military, eligibility requires service after September 7, 1980, as an enlisted person, or after October 16, 1981, as an officer. This service should extend for a minimum of 24 consecutive months, or it must have been completed under special circumstances, such as death while on active duty.
Date of Death Before November 1, 1990: If the eligible Veteran passed away prior to November 1, 1990, the VA may provide a headstone or marker only if the grave is unmarked.
Date of Death On or After November 1, 1990: For eligible Veterans who died on or after November 1, 1990, there is no requirement for the grave to be unmarked. These Veterans can receive a headstone, marker, or medallion even if the grave is already marked.
Headstones and markers are also furnished for eligible spouses and dependents of Veterans. However, this applies exclusively to those buried or memorialized in a national, military post/base, or state Veterans cemetery. Spouses and dependents interred in private cemeteries are not eligible for government-furnished headstones or markers.
Individuals with 20 years of service in the National Guard or Reserves who are entitled to retired pay can qualify for a government headstone or marker. Active duty service (excluding training duty) performed under conditions other than dishonorable in the National Guard or Reserves establishes headstone/marker or medallion eligibility, and such service doesn't necessitate receipt of retiree pay.
However, Veterans whose only active duty service was for training in the National Guard or Reserves are eligible only under special circumstances, such as death while on duty or as a result of training.
These eligibility criteria ensure that a diverse range of Veterans, who have served in various capacities, eras, and circumstances, can be honored through the VA's program, commemorating their service and contributions to the nation.
Applying for the Headstones, Markers, and Medallions program is a straightforward and respectful process that allows families and loved ones to honor their deceased eligible Veterans with a fitting tribute. Here's a step-by-step guide to the application process:
Begin by visiting the National Cemetery Administration webpage dedicated to this program. This webpage provides comprehensive information about the program, including eligibility details, available headstone, marker, and medallion types and styles, and the application forms you'll need.
On the National Cemetery Administration webpage, you can find and download the necessary application forms. These forms are the VA Form 40-1330 for Standard Government Headstone or Marker, and VA Form 40-1330M for Government Medallion. These forms are crucial for initiating the application process.
Carefully fill out the appropriate form based on whether you are applying for a headstone or marker, or a medallion. Provide accurate and complete information about the eligible Veteran, their service, and your contact details. Pay special attention to the details of the Veteran's service to ensure eligibility.
In some cases, additional documentation may be necessary to support the application. For instance, if the Veteran was part of the National Guard or Reserves with 20 years of service, attaching a copy of the Reserve Retirement Eligibility Benefits Letter is required. Ensure you provide any requested documents to validate eligibility.
If the grave of the deceased Veteran is already marked with a private headstone or marker, you will have the option to choose either a traditional headstone or marker, or a medallion that can be affixed to the existing privately purchased memorial. This choice allows you to customize the memorial as per your preference.
Once you have completed the application form and attached any necessary documents, you can either fax or mail the application. The fax number to send completed applications is 1-800-455-7143. Alternatively, you can mail the application to the NCA FP Evidence Intake Center, P.O. Box 5237, Janesville, WI 53547.
If you need assistance or have questions during the application process, you can reach out to the VA Memorial Product Service Applicant Assistance Unit toll-free at 1-800-697-6947. They are available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (ET), Monday through Friday.
The application process reflects the VA's commitment to facilitating a respectful and thoughtful commemoration for eligible Veterans. By following these steps, you can ensure that the memory of your loved ones who served is honored with the dignity they deserve, and their contributions are remembered for generations to come.
Any deceased Veteran discharged from the U.S. armed forces under conditions other than dishonorable is eligible. Service in an active component after September 7, 1980, as an enlisted person or after October 16, 1981, as an officer, must be for a minimum of 24 consecutive months or completed under special circumstances. Eligibility criteria may vary based on service dates and circumstances.
Yes, eligible Veterans with graves marked by a private headstone or marker have the option to apply for either a traditional headstone or marker, or a medallion that can be affixed to the existing memorial.
Visit the National Cemetery Administration webpage to download the appropriate application form (VA Form 40-1330 for headstone/marker, VA Form 40-1330M for medallion). Complete the form with accurate information about the Veteran's service. Attach any required documentation, and choose the desired memorial type. Submit the completed application by faxing it to 1-800-455-7143 or mailing it to NCA FP Evidence Intake Center, P.O. Box 5237, Janesville, WI 53547.
Headstones and markers are furnished for eligible spouses and dependents of Veterans, but only if they are buried or memorialized in a national, military post/base, or state Veterans cemetery. Spouses and dependents in private cemeteries are not eligible for government-furnished memorials.
You can call the VA Memorial Product Service Applicant Assistance Unit toll-free at 1-800-697-6947 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (ET), Monday through Friday, for assistance with any inquiries you may have.
The Headstones, Markers,and Medallions program offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs serves as a meaningful tribute to honor the service and sacrifice of eligible Veterans. By providing free government-furnished headstones, markers, and medallions for unmarked graves in cemeteries worldwide, the program ensures that the memory of these individuals is preserved with the dignity they deserve.
As we deeply reflect on the significant tokens of remembrance for our veterans, it's equally essential to understand the tangible benefits they are entitled to in their lifetimes. To further appreciate the commitments made by our nation to its protectors, delve into how GI bills work.