VA burial benefits can provide a dignified burial for veterans at no cost. Learn about veteran's burial benefits.The story of America’s national cemeteries begins with the Civil War. One sentence in an 1862 law authorized President Lincoln to establish cemeteries to bury the Union dead. Since then, burial and memorial benefits for veterans and their families have expanded dramatically.

Today, benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration (NCA) include opening and closing of the grave in a national cemetery; grave liner (vault); perpetual care and maintenance; government headstone, marker or medallion for any eligible veteran buried anywhere in the world; Presidential Memorial Certificate; Veterans Legacy Memorial (VLM) page; burial flag; and military honors—all at no cost. Spouses and eligible dependents can be buried with the veteran in a national cemetery even if they predecease the veteran. There were nearly 150,000 interments in VA national cemeteries in fiscal year 2021.

In addition to 155 VA-run national cemeteries, the VA funds more than 120 state, territorial and tribal veterans cemeteries, which provide very similar benefits to those available in a national cemetery. Together, this network ensures that 94% of veterans in the U.S. live within 75 miles of a veterans cemetery. NCA regards its mission to provide dignified burials for veterans in “national shrines” as one of the most sacred in the federal government. Learn more by visiting the NCA website,

Pre-Need Eligibility

To assist veterans and families in planning funeral arrangements, NCA developed pre-need eligibility determination. Families no longer need to wait until the time of death to find out if a veteran is eligible for burial in a national ceremony.

Pre-need applications require some basic information, such as the veteran’s Social Security number and a copy of the veteran’s DD-214 or other separation documents. Applications can be found on the NCA website.

Pre-need is very popular because it gives veterans peace of mind, knowing their family won’t have to search for their military discharge documents after their death. Since pre-need eligibility was established in December 2016, NCA has approved almost 300,000 applications.

Headstones, Markers and Medallions

Veterans don’t have to be buried in a national cemetery to receive VA memorial benefits. The VA furnishes, at no charge, a government headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world, regardless of when they died. Granite, marble and bronze flat markers and granite and marble upright headstones are available, as well as bronze niche covers to mark columbaria where cremated remains are kept.

For veterans who already have a privately purchased headstone, marker or niche cover marking their interment site, families may receive a government-furnished bronze medallion with the word “veteran” and the appropriate branch of service on it. The VA will mail the medallion along with a kit that will allow the family or the staff of a private cemetery to affix the device to a headstone, grave marker or columbarium niche cover.

Since 1973, more than 14 million headstones and markers have been furnished to veterans worldwide.

Veterans Legacy Memorial

VLM is the nation’s first digital platform dedicated entirely to the memory of veterans interred in national cemeteries as well as in VA-funded state, territorial and tribal veterans cemeteries. Launched in 2019, the site featured individual veteran profile pages that are populated with military service and cemetery information, including service branch, dates of birth and death, rank, war period, military decorations, emblem of belief and burial location. Interactive features allow family, friends and others to preserve a veteran’s legacy by posting tributes (comments), uploading images, and sharing their veteran’s biographical information and historical documents. Everything uploaded to the site is reviewed to ensure it complies with the VLM User Policy. Since 2019, more than 44,000 contributions have been made to veterans’ VLM pages. The site can be accessed at

“The last thing families should be doing after the loss of a loved one is scramble at the last minute to properly honor and lay their veteran to rest,” said DAV National Commander Joe Parsetich. “By planning how best to use your VA memorial benefits earlier, you’ll ensure they won’t be needlessly burdened with these significant decisions while in the grieving process.”

For more information: Download the DAV Death Benefits Guide at