All active or honorably discharged U.S. veterans are entitled to a free burial in a national cemetery and a grave marker. This eligibility also extends to some civilians who have provided military-related service and some Public Health Service personnel. Spouses and dependent children also are entitled to a lot and marker when buried in a national cemetery. There are no charges for opening or closing the grave, for a vault or liner, or for setting the marker in a national cemetery. The family generally is responsible for other expenses, including transportation to the cemetery. In addition, many states have established veterans cemeteries. Eligibility requirements and other details vary. A detailed description of the burial and cremation benefits available veterans can be found by clicking HERE.

You may see ads for so-called “veterans’ specials” by commercial cemeteries. These “deals” sometimes offer a free plot for the veteran, but charge exorbitant rates for an adjoining plot for the spouse, as well as high fees for opening and closing each grave. Evaluate the bottom-line cost to be sure the special is as special as you may be led to believe.

For a complete listing of eligibility requirements, contact your local veterans affairs office or visit the Department of Veterans Affairs. To reach the regional Veterans Affairs office in your area, call 1-800-827-1000.

A complete listing of VA National Cemeteries and telephone numbers can be found at www.va.gov/cemetery/address.htm. For more information about military honors, you may visit the Department of Defense web site at www.militaryfuneralhonors.osd.mil