A veteran can receive a military funeral in a military or private cemetery. The choice affects how arrangements are made for that veteran’s military funeral. Here are your choices for a military veterans funeral:
A veteran can be buried in a national cemetery, Arlington, a National Park Service cemetery, or a state veterans cemetery. If one of these resting places is chosen, the funeral director will take care of most of the arrangements for you, and the government will handle most of the expenses. However, proof of the veteran’s eligibility, such as DD Form 214, must be presented.
If the veteran is buried in a private cemetery, the funeral director can help you set up the military arrangements, but you will have to seek reimbursement for the expenses. You will have to provide proof of the veteran’s eligibility, such as DD Form 214, to receive military funeral honors.
When supplying proof of eligibility or other official records, do not send original documents because they will not be returned.
Seek reimbursement for a veteran’s private funeral expenses
If you choose to have your loved one buried in a private cemetery and you want to be reimbursed for funeral and burial expenses, you can apply by filling out VA Form 21-530, Application for Burial Benefits.
You may download the form from the VA’s website. You should attach a copy of the veteran’s military discharge document, death certificate, and funeral/burial bills. The bills should show that they have been paid in full. The completed form may be submitted to any VA regional office.
A claim for non-service-connected burial expenses or plot allowance must be filed with the VA within two years of the date of the veteran’s permanent burial or cremation. There is no time limit for service-connected deaths.
Set up military funeral honors for a veteran
You can arrange for military funeral honors by contacting the honor guard representative for the branch of the military in which the deceased served.
Veteran service organizations, such as the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), can often assist with arranging military funeral honors. This is especially true if the deceased veteran was a member of the organization.
If you have difficulty reaching the appropriate point of contact, call 877-MIL-HONR (877-645-4667). A service representative will help you get in touch with the appropriate honor guard unit.
Apply for a veterans funeral at Arlington
When a veteran wants to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, arrangements, including burial site selection, are made only upon the individual’s death. Arrangements are typically coordinated between staffs at the deceased’s funeral home and the cemetery. Cemetery staff can also help schedule use of the nearby Fort Myer Chapel, as well as arrange for a military chaplain when a family minister isn’t preferred.
Upon the veteran’s death, you should contact a local funeral home to arrange for any desired services in the hometown. The funeral director should call the Interment Office at Arlington (703-607-8585) to arrange for the burial.
Before scheduling the service, the cemetery staff will need to determine the veteran’s eligibility, so you need to have proof of the veteran’s service (DD Form 214), and other required proofs. You can fax eligibility documents to the cemetery at 703-607-8583. Upon verification of eligibility, the Arlington cemetery staff will schedule the funeral.
The next available gravesite or niche is assigned on the afternoon before the burial service. The Arlington cemetery staff assigns graves and niches without regard to the veteran’s military rank, race, color, creed, or gender. The family may request a burial location close to other family members buried or inurned within the cemetery; however, limited space may prevent the cemetery from accommodating such requests.
Obtain veterans markers and headstones
When burial is in a national cemetery, National Park cemetery, or state veterans cemetery, the cemetery officials order a headstone or marker and use inscription information provided by the next of kin.
When burial is in a private cemetery, the next of kin or a representative, such as a funeral director, must submit VA Form 40-1330, Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker for Installation in a Private Cemetery or a State Veterans Cemetery, along with the veteran’s military discharge documents, to request a government-provided headstone or marker.
You can obtain VA Form 40-1330 from any VA regional office. The form is also available online at the VA's website. Send the completed form and proof of military service by mail to Memorial Programs Service (41A1), Department of Veterans Affairs, 5109 Russell Road, Quantico, VA 22134-3903; or fax to 800-455-7143.
Request a presidential memorial certificate for a veteran
To request a presidential memorial certificate, you’ll need a copy of the deceased’s death certificate and proof of honorable military service, such as the veteran’s DD Form 214.
Complete a VA Form 40-0247, Presidential Memorial Certificate Request Form, which is available from any VA regional office and online at the VA's website. Mail it, along with proof of honorable service and a copy of the death certificate, to Presidential Memorial Certificates (41A1C), National Cemetery Administration, 5109 Russell Road, Quantico, VA 22134-3903. You may also fax the required documents to 800-455-7143.
The funeral home may order a certificate for you. Additionally, some state veterans cemeteries automatically order a PMC, so you’ll want to check with the cemetery administrator before ordering.
Obtain a burial flag for a veteran
You may apply for the flag by completing VA Form 21-2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes, which is available online at the VA's website.
The form is also available from VA regional offices and any United States Post Office. You may take the completed form, along with proof of military service, such as a DD Form 214, to any VA regional office or U.S. Post Office and receive the flag.
Generally, the funeral director will help you obtain the flag. If burial is in a national cemetery, National Park Service cemetery, or state veterans cemetery, the flag will usually be obtained by the cemetery staff.