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Veteran Burials: VA National Cemetery Guide

October 2, 2023

In the United States, the Veterans Administration (VA) recognizes the service and sacrifices of eligible veterans and their dependents in the United States. As a tribute to their commitment, the VA provides certain burial benefits in national cemeteries. Are you seeking guidance on providing your loved ones with a proper burial?

This guide provides all the necessary information to ensure a peaceful resting place for those who matter most to you. Read on to explore the next steps and learn how you can best prepare.

Veteran Eligibility in VA Burial Benefits

Navigating the maze of VA burial benefits can seem daunting, especially during grief. However, understanding the foundational requirements of who qualifies as an eligible veteran is crucial. This comprehensive guide elucidates the criteria, ensuring that families can access the honors and benefits rightfully earned by their loved ones.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has established clear guidelines regarding eligibility. At the heart of these guidelines is the veteran's service record. Their service duration, nature of duties, and the conditions under which they were discharged play a pivotal role in determining qualification.

There are multiple tiers of eligible veterans:

  1. Active Duty Veterans: This includes those brave individuals who tragically lost their lives while serving on active duty. Their sacrifice is recognized by granting them the full spectrum of burial benefits.

  2. Honorable Discharge: Veterans who were discharged under conditions that were not dishonorable are eligible. Their service, irrespective of its duration, entitles them to certain benefits.

  3. Allied Service: In times of global conflict, the U.S. hasn't stood alone. Citizens who served honorably alongside U.S. forces as part of an allied Armed Force during wartime also qualify.

  4. Reserve and ROTC Members: Members of the Reserve Components and those from the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) have specific circumstances under which they become eligible. This could be related to the duration of their training, active service periods, or other specific criteria set by the VA.

Furthermore, it's vital to recognize that the ripple effects of a veteran's service often extend to their immediate family. As such, the VA considers the eligibility of spouses and minor children. Depending on the veteran's service record and the specifics of their eligibility, immediate family members might also be entitled to burial benefits.

For families seeking to avail themselves of these benefits, it's imperative to have the necessary documentation at hand. This could include the veteran's discharge papers, proof of active service, or other official records verifying their service duration and nature. When in doubt, consulting with a VA representative or accessing the official VA website can provide detailed, step-by-step guidance.

Eligible Dependents in VA Burial Benefits

Ensuring that the families of veterans receive the respect and remembrance they deserve is a cornerstone of the VA's mission. Recognizing and understanding the eligibility criteria for dependents is paramount for families seeking to avail themselves of VA burial benefits. This section provides a detailed insight into the intricacies of dependent eligibility, ensuring clarity and comprehension.

Verification Process for Dependents: The legitimacy of a dependent's relationship with the veteran is authenticated through a verification process. Each dependent type has associated documentation:

  1. Spouses: A marriage certificate acts as the primary verification document for spouses. Additional scrutiny and guidelines may apply if a spouse has remarried after the veteran's death.

  2. Dependent Children: Children's biological or adopted eligibility hinges on authentic birth certificates or adoption papers. The age and marital status of the child, among other factors, can also influence eligibility.

LDVA Veterans Cemeteries and Eligibility: Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs (LDVA) Veterans Cemeteries strictly adhere to the guidelines the USDVA National Cemetery Administration laid out. These guidelines provide a comprehensive framework, ensuring consistent eligibility standards for all dependents nationwide.

Burial Benefits for Veterans and Dependents

The reverence we treat our departed veterans is a testament to their sacrifices and service. The VA extends its commitment beyond providing a dignified resting place. There's a spectrum of burial benefits available designed to honor, remember, and support:

  1. Military Funeral Honors: A ceremonial tribute, including the presentation of the U.S. flag and the playing of "Taps," is offered as a mark of profound respect.

  2. Burial Flags: The Stars and Stripes draped over the casket symbolize the nation's gratitude. This burial flag is later presented to the next of kin as a keepsake.

  3. Headstones, Markers, and Medallions: Depending on the burial location, the VA provides headstones, markers, or medallions to commemorate the deceased veteran.

  4. Presidential Memorial Certificates: A certificate bearing the current president's signature, expressing the country's recognition of the veteran's service.

For families and dependents, it's essential to familiarize oneself with these benefits and understand the application processes associated with each. Engaging with a VA representative or accessing resources on the official VA website can help streamline this journey, ensuring the veteran's memory is honored most fittingly.

Military Funeral Honors

The military funeral honors ceremony is a way to show deep respect to those who have served. It consists of:

  1. The solemn folding and presentation of the United States flag to the next of kin, accompanied by the iconic bugle call, "Taps."

  2. Family members wishing for military funeral honors can direct their request through their funeral director or contact the Department of Defense (DoD) at the toll-free number 1-877-MIL-HONR.

  3. Various entities can provide the ceremony, including the DoD, the VA, veterans service organizations, and even dedicated volunteer groups.

  4. For more detailed information on military funeral honors, the official resource www.militaryfuneralhonors.osd.mil is invaluable.

Burial Flags and Government-Issued Headstones/Markers

To further honor the service of veterans:

  1. A burial flag drapes the casket or accompanies the urn of a deceased veteran, symbolizing the nation's respect.

  2. Veterans in a VA national cemetery typically have a government-issued headstone or marker. However, a medallion can be affixed to a privately purchased headstone or marker for those in a private cemetery.

Death Certificate, Discharge Papers, and Other Required Documents

Documentation is vital in availing of the VA burial benefits:

  1. A death certificate and the veteran's discharge papers are pivotal in eligibility.

  2. Other necessary documents may include proof of military service, marriage certificates, or birth certificates.

Financial Benefits for Eligible Spouses and Minor Children

For eligible spouses and minor children, there are financial benefits to ease the burial costs:

  1. The benefits are designed to alleviate the financial burden of burial proceedings.

  2. Eligibility for these benefits is anchored on specific criteria, including requisite documentation.

  3. Among the financial advantages are burial allowances and potential reimbursements for transportation.

Unmarried Adult Children May Be Entitled to Certain Benefits

Under certain conditions, unmarried adult children can also be beneficiaries of specific burial benefits, subject to their eligibility and the required documentation.

Who is Entitled to a VA National Cemetery Burial?

The VA’s burial benefits are expansive, covering various groups:

  • Active Duty Service Members and Reservists Who Die While on Duty or Training: Active duty service members and reservists who tragically lose their lives while on duty or during training have distinct eligibility criteria for burial in a VA national cemetery.

  • Veterans with an Other Than Dishonorable Discharge: Veterans who did not receive a dishonorable discharge have burial eligibility and can avail of specific benefits based on their service records.

  • Department of Veterans Affairs Employees Who Die on the Job or Retirees: Employees or retirees from the Department of Veterans Affairs who die due to work-related circumstances have special considerations and burial benefits available to them.

Eligibility for Spouses and Dependent Children at VA National Cemeteries

Dependents, such as spouses and children, have specific criteria for eligibility in national cemeteries.

Who is Not Entitled to a VA National Cemetery Burial?

Certain groups, such as those with a dishonorable discharge or dependent children over a set age, might not be eligible for VA national cemetery burials. Details from the Background Information section shed more light on this.


1. What is the primary eligibility requirement for burial in a VA National Cemetery?

Eligibility primarily hinges on the veteran's service record, with considerations for duration and nature of service.

2. Can a veteran's spouse be buried alongside them in a VA cemetery?

Yes, eligible spouses and some dependents can also be interred in national cemeteries.

3. How does one request a military funeral honor?

Requests can be made through the funeral director or directly at 1-877-MIL-HONR.

4. What benefits are available for unmarried adult children of veterans?

Depending on their eligibility, unmarried adult children can avail specific burial benefits.

Is there financial aid provided for burial services?

Eligible spouses and minor children might qualify for burial allowances or transportation reimbursement.


Understanding the veteran and dependent burial in VA National Cemeteries is essential for families to avail themselves of the respect and benefits their loved ones deserve. Eligibility requirements, varied burial benefits, and the necessary documentation are integral components of this process.

The VA's commitment to honoring the service and memory of eligible veterans and their dependents reinforces the nation's gratitude for their sacrifices. 

Are you thinking about tax benefits for veterans and how to ensure you qualify? Read more about it from our blogs at American Veteran.

Michael Blair contributes his expertise to help veterans access government benefits and resources. Through his informative articles and guides, he plays a vital role in empowering veterans and improving their quality of life.
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