When You Die, VA Will Provide a Free Grave Marker

Airman & Son Place Flag on Veteran's Grave
914th Airlift Wing Security Forces Staff Sgt. Tara Wichtowski and her son place an American flag on a veteran’s grave during a Memorial Day ceremony held at Forest Lawn Cemetery.

The Department of Veterans Affairs furnishes upon request, and for no charge, a government headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world, regardless of their date of death.

For eligible veterans who died on or after Nov. 1, 1990, and whose grave is marked with a privately purchased headstone, VA may also furnish a headstone or marker to supplement, or a medallion to be affixed to, a privately purchased headstone.

Flat markers in granite, marble, and bronze and upright headstones in granite and marble are available. Bronze niche markers are also available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains. The style chosen must be permitted by the officials in charge of the private cemetery where it will be placed.

When burial or memorialization is in a national cemetery, state veterans' cemetery, or military post/base cemetery, a headstone or marker will be ordered by the cemetery officials based on inscription information provided by the next of kin or authorized representative.

Spouses and dependents are not eligible for a government-furnished headstone or marker unless they are buried in a national cemetery, state veteran's cemetery, or military post/base cemetery.

Note: There is no charge for the headstone or marker itself. However, arrangements for placing it in a private cemetery are the applicant's responsibility, and all setting fees are at private expense.


Eligibility for a VA headstone or marker is the same as for burial in a national cemetery. VA cannot issue a headstone or marker for a spouse or dependent buried in a private cemetery. Twenty-year reservists without active-duty service are eligible for a headstone or grave marker if they are entitled to military retired pay at the time of death.

Types of Markers

There are several types of markers available:

  • Upright headstones: These headstones are 42 inches long, 13 inches wide and 4 inches thick, and made of marble or granite. Their weight is approximately 230 pounds.
  • Flat bronze marker: The flat bronze grave marker is 24 inches long and 12 inches wide, with a 3/4-inch rise. Its weight is approximately 18 pounds. Anchor bolts, nuts and washers for fastening to a base are furnished with the marker. The government does not furnish a base.
  • Flat marble or granite markers: The flat granite and flat marble grave markers are 24 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 4 inches thick. Their weight is approximately 130 pounds. 
  • Bronze niche: This niche marker is 8 1/2 inches long and 5 1/2 inches wide, with a 7/16-inch rise. Its weight is approximately 3 pounds. Mounting bolts and washers are furnished with the marker.
  • Medallions: The VA provides a medallion, by request, to be affixed to an existing, privately purchased headstone or marker to signify the deceased's status as a veteran. This device is furnished in lieu of a traditional government headstone or grave marker for those veterans whose death occurred on or after Nov. 1, 1990, and whose grave in a private cemetery is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker. Each medallion is inscribed with the word “VETERAN” across the top and the branch of service at the bottom.

Who Can Apply

 Only the following individuals may apply for a headstone, marker or medallion:

  1. Decedent's next-of-kin
  2. Authorized representative on behalf of decedent
  3. Authorized representative on behalf of next-of-kin

If someone other than the next-of-kin applies for the headstone, marker or medallion (such as a funeral director), the application package must include a written statement signed by the next-of-kin or decedent authorizing that person (the applicant) to apply for this benefit. The statement doesn't need to be notarized.

National, Post, or State Veterans' Cemetery

Cemetery officials will order a headstone or marker based on inscription information provided by the next-of-kin.

Private Cemetery

To receive a government-provided headstone, marker or medallion, the eligible applicant must submit a VA Form 40-1330, Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker or VA Form 40-1330M, Claim for Government Medallion to VA along with proof of military service. Do not send original documents, as they will not be returned.


The VA has expanded the available emblems of belief for placement on government headstones and markers to include a greater number of options for veterans. Visit the VA's Headstones and Markers website to view the nearly 40 optional emblems.

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