Eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery is based on the length of time in active military service, and the nature of the veteran's separation from the service.
Members of the U.S. Armed Forces who died on active duty, and veterans who were discharged or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable, are eligible for burial in national cemeteries.
Limitations to this eligibility began in 1980. Veterans who entered active duty as enlisted personnel after September 7, 1980, and all veterans who entered active duty after October 16, 1981, must meet the following criteria to be eligible for burial in a national cemetery:
Have served at least 24 months of active duty, or for the entire period that they were called to active duty
Have received a hardship discharge or a service-connected disability
Burial in a VA national cemetery is also available to an eligible veteran's spouse, widow or widower who has not remarried, minor children, and, under certain circumstances, unmarried adult children.
Reserves or the National Guard who die as a result of active duty for training may also be eligible for burial benefits.
Veterans who die for reasons other than service connected disabilities may be entitled to up to $300.00 in burial benefits. Eligibility is established if the veteran:
Was entitled at the time of death to pension or compensation (or but for the receipt of military retired pay would have been entitled to compensation)
Died while hospitalized or domiciled in a VA facility or other facility at VA expense.
A pamphlet titled "Interments in National Cemeteries", found here, is published and provided by VA regional offices. This brochure provides extensive and detailed information on national cemetery burial arrangements including history, entitlement, and qualifications for burial. Applications for veteran burial should be made at the time of death by contacting Willwerscheid Funeral Home & Cremation Service.
Please note Arlington National Cemetery is under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Army, not the Department of Veterans Affairs. With the exception of cremated remains, burial is limited to specific categories of military personnel and veterans. For more information, write to the Superintendent, Arlington National Cemetery, VA 22211, or call 1-800-827-1000.
While this is but a brief look into what you can expect when your loved one is interred in a national cemetery, Willwerscheid Funeral Home & Cremation Service will be glad to provide details or answer questions about VA cemeteries or other burial benefits. Make sure to stick around for part two which will cover what burial benefits are offered and how you can make the most of them.