National Cemeteries Offer Free Burial for Veterans

man in repose at arlington cemetery

Burial in a national cemetery is free to all eligible veterans. Spouses and some dependent children may also be eligible.

There are 155 national cemeteries in 42 states and Puerto Rico.

Burial benefits available include:

All of this is provided at no cost to the family.

Some veterans may also be eligible for burial allowances.

Cremated remains may also either be buried or placed in a memorial space in national cemeteries. However, if a family accepts a VA-issued urn or memorial plaque, the veteran is no longer eligible for interment in a national cemetery.

For a listing of national cemeteries, visit the Department of Veterans Affairs' website.

Eligibility for Burial in a National Cemetery

Veterans and those who die on active duty are eligible for burial in one of VA's 189 national cemeteries. An eligible veteran must have been discharged or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable and have completed the required period of service. A U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in a war also may be eligible.

Spouses and dependent, minor children of eligible veterans and service members may also be buried in a national cemetery.

A surviving spouse who remarried after the veteran's death retains eligibility, but a former spouse whose marriage to the veteran ended in annulment or divorce does not. 

Requesting Burial in a National Cemetery

Burial in a national cemetery is based on military service. If the veteran wasn't receiving any other VA benefits, VA may request proof of military service to determine eligibility for burial. 

VA allows veterans to find out their eligibility for burial in a VA National Cemetery before the time of need.

VA calls this "pre-need determination." To apply, visit VA's Pre-Need Burial Eligibility Determination webpage.

Determining burial eligibility prior to one's death greatly reduces stress on surviving family members.

You may indicate a preference for a VA national cemetery on the application, but a pre-need determination of eligibility does not guarantee burial in a specific VA national cemetery or a specific gravesite. VA assigns gravesites in cemeteries with available space once death has occurred and the burial is scheduled.

At the time of need, the next-of-kin, funeral home or other representative responsible for making final arrangements should visit VA's website to determine eligibility for burial or otherwise arrange for disposition of the veteran's remains.

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is under the jurisdiction of the Army. Eligibility for interment is strictly limited. See details about Arlington National Cemetery.

Interior Department, Tribal and State Veteran Cemeteries

Many sovereign tribal nations, states and territories operate cemeteries for veterans. VA maintains a listing of all state, tribal and territory veteran cemeteries online.

See our State Veterans Benefits page for more information about specific state veterans cemeteries as well as other state benefits for veterans, family members and survivors.

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