The United States has a long tradition of honoring its veterans, including those who have returned home from their terms of service to live lives once again as civilians. Among the benefits the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides are burial and memorial services.
Deceased service members and most veterans are entitled to burial free of charge in U.S. veterans cemeteries across the country. To be eligible, the veteran must have died while on active duty, or have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. Discharged reservists also qualify, provided they have served at least 24 months on active duty, or for the full term of their call-up, if a reserve component call-up lasted less than 24 months. Reservists who have earned retirement benefits and drawn retired pay, or would have drawn retirement pay had they reached the age of 60, are also eligible, as are spouses and members of the Merchant Marine in World War II.
Eligible persons may be interned at any of 131 national cemeteries across the country. Of these, 19 only take cremated remains. The rest will accept caskets. Specific options vary by cemetery. The deceased children of eligible veterans may also be buried in national cemeteries, subject to age restrictions.
Headstones and Grave Markers
The Veterans Administration will provide a free memorial marker for any eligible veteran or spouse and deliver it anywhere in the world. It does not have to be at a national cemetery. Markers can be either flat or upright, but the style will be uniform with the other markers in the cemetery.
The Veterans Administration provides burial flags for veterans who served in wartime, or after January 31, 1955; retired or retirement-eligible reserve component members; and members of the Selected Reserve who served out their obligations or died while a member.
The VA authorizes a $300 burial allowance in some circumstances for veterans who were entitled to receive a pension or disabilty compensation. The VA may also pay a $300 plot allowance for eligible veterans.