Veterans, spouses can now pre-plan for VA national cemetery burial needs

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Background: Civil War headstones on Memorial Day at Alexandria National Cemetery.

Veterans and spouses are now able to better plan for their end-of-life wishes, by determining eligibility for burial in one of the 135 VA national cemeteries before the time of need.

In December 2016, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced that eligibility decisions would no longer have to be determined after the passing of the veteran or dependent.

“This new program reaffirms our commitment to providing a lifetime of benefits and services for veterans and their families,” said VA Interim Undersecretary for Memorial Affairs Ronald E. Walters.

For veterans who are determined eligible, the burial includes opening and closing of the grave, a grave liner, ongoing care of the gravesite and a government-furnished headstone or marker. Veterans are also eligible for a burial flag and Presidential Memorial Certificate. These benefits come at no cost the veteran or his or her family.

“VA’s decision to offer pre-need burial eligibility provides peace of mind to veterans and their families and will eliminate one last stressor during an undoubtedly challenging point in their life,” said DAV National Commander Dave Riley. “VA benefits through the National Cemetery Administration are too often overlooked, but this program helps ensure veterans are properly honored and provides them—and their survivors peace of mind.”

Veterans or their families who would like to determine burial eligibility can submit VA Form 40-10007, Application for Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility for Burial in a VA National Cemetery, along with supporting documentation such as a DD Form 214, to the VA National Cemetery Scheduling Office by toll-free fax: 1-855-840-8299, e-mail: Eligibility.PreNeed@va.gov or mail: National Cemetery Scheduling Office, P.O. Box 510543, St. Louis, MO 63151. More information is available on the pre-need burial eligibility determination program on the VA’s Website: www.cem.va.gov/cem/pre-need/.

Eligibility determinations are currently taking up to 90 days based on the volume of applications coming in. VA continues to streamline the new process in order to make it easier to apply for and promptly receive a determination.

Veterans who choose to be buried in a private cemetery can also request a government headstone, marker, burial flag or Presidential Memorial Certificate. Some veterans may be eligible for a burial allowance. Eligible veterans may receive military funeral honors, arranged directly by a funeral home through the Department of Defense.

To learn more about benefits available through the VA National Cemetery Administration, including the pre-need burial eligibility determination program, visit www.cem.va.gov or contact a DAV National Service Office. Find your local NSO at www.dav.org/veterans/find-your-local-office.