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Eligibility for Military Burial

Burial and Memorial Benefits

During the passing of a service member the government assists surviving family members in the cost of burial service in order to dignify and commemorate the service the deceased veteran voluntarily served their country.

Eligibility for Military Burial

Many veterans are eligible for benefits regarding burial and memorial service. To qualify, a service member must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • The veteran was president or a former president of the United States, based on their service as commander in chief.
  • The veteran died while on active duty, including active duty for training for members of the Reserves and National Guard.
  • The veteran had active-duty service on or before September 7, 1980 as an enlisted member and on or before October 16, 1981 as an officer. Additionally they had a discharge characterization the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doesn’t regard as dishonorable.
  • The veteran’s service started after September 7, 1980 as an enlisted member or after October 16, 1981 as an officer, with at least 24 months of ongoing, active-duty service. Additionally the veteran must have a discharge characterization that is not considered dishonorable.
  • The veteran was a member of the National Guard or Reserves who was called to active duty for less than 24 months and served during the full length of the time they were called upon for. The veteran must additionally have a discharge characterization considered not dishonorable by the VA.
  • The veteran was a Reserve or National Guard member under the age of 60 who was, or would have been, entitled to retired payment, at the time of death.
  • The veteran was Reservist who died as result of an injury or illness incurred or exacerbated by their time in the military.

Meeting conditions for burial expenses

The government is obligated to pay part of the expenses for a service member who is buried or made ready in a private cemetery. In order to qualify for this benefit the veteran must meet certain standards to be eligible.

In addition to these qualifications, the veteran must also match at least of the following requirements:

  • The veteran died as a result of a service-related disability.
  • The veteran was accepting a VA pension or compensation at the time of death.
  • The veteran was eligible to receive VA pension or compensation, but opted not to reduce military retirement or disability pay.
  • The veteran died while being hospitalized in a VA facility or while accepting medical care under VA contract at a non-VA facility.
  • The veteran died in transit under the appropriate approval and at VA expense to or from a specified location for reason of examination, treatment, or care.
  • The veteran had an original or reopened claim pending during the time of death and the VA determined the service member was eligible for compensation or pension from a date before the date of death.
  • The veteran died on or after October 9, 1996 interned as a patient at a VA-approved state nursing home.

Being interred at Arlington

A strict eligibility criteria exists to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. One imperative criteria is that veterans must have received a completely honorable discharge, not a characterization of other than dishonorable as determined by the VA.

Those that meet the following categories meet the standards for the privileged honor to be interred at Arlington National Cemetery:

  • Service members who died on active duty unless they were on duty-for-training purposes only.
  • Active-duty retirees.
  • Reserve and National Guard retirees age 60 and older who are drawing retired pay during the tie of death and who served a period of active duty for more than training purposes.
  • Veterans who were awarded the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Air Force Cross, Navy Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, or Purple Heart.
  • Veterans who were former prisoners of war who died on or after November 30, 1993.
  • Widows or widowers of service members who are accredited as missing in action.

Spouses, widows, widowers, minor children, completely dependent children, and particular unmarried adult children of eligible veteran. Service members must consent in writing that they prefer to be buried at the same site if spouses or children pass first.

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