By Last Updated: May 13th, 2022

On Death, Burial, Memorial, and Cremation Benefits for Veterans

Veterans who have served this country are owed a debt of gratitude for their sacrifice and service. To honor our deceased veterans, the U.S. Government has approved certain allowances, benefits, and free memorial items. These apply whether they are still serving, or not. One strict rule, however, is that the Veteran must not have been dishonorably discharged.

Here are the requirements for death, burial, cremation, and memorial benefits for Veterans.

Burial Benefits For Veterans

Veterans’ cremated or casketed remains may be eligible for burial in a National Veterans Cemetery. If your family prefers the burial to be at a private cemetery instead, the VA may cover the cost. Burial allowances are only available if you are not being reimbursed for burial expenses by any other organization.


According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, in order to be eligible to receive Veterans burial benefits, you must be:

  • A surviving spouse of the Veteran (Same-sex marriages are recognized)
  • A surviving partner from a legal union
  • A surviving child of the Veteran
  • A parent of the Veteran
  • The executor or administrator of the Veteran’s estate (or an official representative of the Veteran)

The USDVA also provides the following at no cost to the family:

  • A gravesite in any of the national cemeteries with available space
  • Opening and closing of the grave
  • Perpetual care
  • A government headstone or marker
  • A burial flag  (You will need to file VA Form 27-2008 (Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes) to obtain the flag)
  • A Presidential Memorial Certificate (File the necessary VA Form 40-0247 (Presidential Memorial Certificate Request Form) to obtain the certificate)

US flag in grass on a beautiful day at Los Angeles National Cemetery

To receive these benefits, the Veteran must have died under one or more of these circumstances:

  • As a result of a disability related to their service in the military
  • While receiving care at a VA or VA contracted facility
  • While receiving full military retirement or disability pay
  • While receiving VA compensation or pension
  • While traveling to receive treatment or care at VA’s expense (proper authorization required)
  • If a claim for VA compensation was pending at the time of death

Cremated remains are buried with the same honors and in the same manner as those in a casket. Additionally, the VA provides an allowance to cover the cost of transporting a Veteran’s remains for burial in a national cemetery.

Family Member Burial Benefits

If you are a spouse or child of a Veteran, you are also entitled to burial benefits. You may be buried in a National Cemetery alongside the Veteran. The VA also provides perpetual care at no cost to the family. Spouse and dependent benefits are available to the family even if they die before the Veteran.

Keep in mind that not all Veterans qualify. The VA won’t provide burial allowances for those who died:

  • While on active duty
  • While serving as a member of Congress, or
  • While serving a federal prison sentence

Memorial Items and Military Funeral Honors

Headstones, Grave Markers, or Niche Markers

Whether they are laid to rest in a national veterans cemetery or a private cemetery, Veterans can get free memorial items and military funeral honors.

Here are the requirements for being honored with a military headstone, grave marker, or niche marker:

You will need to file VA Form 40-1330 (Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker) to obtain your government marker.

The Veteran or Military service member:

  • Must not have not been dishonorably discharged
  • Must have served for a minimum of 24 months of continuous active duty, or
  • Must have died while serving on active duty
  • Enlisted personnel who served before or after September 7, 1980, and officers who served before or after October 16, 1981 are eligible if:
    • They died on or after November 1, 1990, and their grave is currently marked with a privately purchased headstone, or
    • They were buried in an unmarked grave, anywhere in the world

american flag used for memorial service for US military veteran

National Guard Members must meet one or more of these requirements:

  • They were entitled to retirement pay at their time of death, or
  • They served in a federal status and for the period of time they were called to serve

For Military Reservists, at least one of the following must be true to qualify:

  • They were entitled to retirement pay at their time of death, or
  • They had been called to active duty for purposes other than training

National Guard members or Reservists who performed limited active-duty service for training purposes only are not eligible. However, if they died during or as a result of the training, they do qualify for these benefits.

Check with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to see if your beloved Veteran is eligible.

“The VA provides an allowance to cover the cost of transporting a Veteran’s remains for burial in a national cemetery.”


Veterans who died while on active duty may be eligible for a bronze or Medal of Honor medallion, depending on the period and length of time they served.

For more information on these specific requirements, visit the VA website.

Memorial items, such as Presidential Memorial Certificates, and burial flags are also provided. Visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website to find out if your beloved deceased Veteran qualifies for these items.

You must fill out Form 40-1330M (Claim for Government Medallion) to obtain your medallion.

Survivor Benefits

In addition to death, burial, cremation, and memorial benefits, you and your family may be eligible for survivor benefits. To see if you qualify, visit the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs website.

For information on how to apply for Veterans death, burial, cremation, and memorial benefits, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website. 

Share This Article