Arranging Military Funerals

Arranging Military Funerals

Family members have two options for types of military funerals:

1. A veteran can be buried in a national cemetery, Arlington, a National Park Service cemetery, or a state veterans cemetery provided the family chooses one of these options, the funeral director is responsible for most of the arrangements while the government covers most of the expenses. To qualify for such service, the family must provide evidence of the veteran’s eligibility with DD Form 214

2. If the veteran is buried in a private cemetery, the funeral direction is obligated to help family members procure the appropriate military arrangements. Family members are required to request reimbursement for the expenses. Evidence is required of the veteran’s eligibility with DD Form 214  for these services.

It is important to send copies—not originals—of evidence of eligibility because they are not returned.

Seeking reimbursement for private funeral expenses

Family members can apply for reimbursement with VA Form 21-530, Application for Burial Benefits if they select to have a veteran interred in a private cemetery.

VA Form 21-530 is available for download at 21-530-ARE.pdf. Applicants should attach a copy of the veterans military discharge document, death certificate, and funeral or burial bills (these bills should provide evidence they were paid in full).

Submit the completed form to any VA regional office

If family members wish to claim non-service-related burial expenses or plot allowance, they are required to be filed with the VA within two years of the date of the veteran’s permanent burial or cremation. No time restriction exists for service-related deaths.

Establishing military funeral honors

Family members can arrange military funeral honors by contacting the honor guard agent for the branch of military service in which the deceased veteran served.

Table 9-1 provides the phone numbers for each branch’s honor guard teams according to state or U.S. territory.

Assistance with organizing military funeral honors can be provided by veteran service organizations like the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), particularly if the deceased was a member of the organization. 

Contact 877-MIL-HONR (877-645-4667) if experiencing difficulty in reaching the appropriate representative.

Applying for Arlington

If a veteran opts to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery the appropriate preparations are made after their death. These preparations are generally managed by the staff of the deceased’s funeral home and the cemetery. The cemetery staff and additionally provide scheduling of Fort Myer Chapel and organize a military chaplain when a family minister isn’t applicable.

Family members are required to contact a local funeral home in order to prepare preferable services in the hometown after the veteran is deceased. For arranging the burial, the funeral director is obligated to contact the Interment Office at Arlington (703-607-8585).

Before scheduling the service, however, the cemetery staff requires evidence of the veteran’s eligibility (“Being Interred at Arlington”) such as DD Form 214.

It is possible to fax appropriate documents of eligibility to the cemetery at 703-607-8583.

The next accessible gravesite or niche is designated on the afternoon before the burial service. The Arlington cemetery staff designates graves and niches without regard to military rank, race, color, creed, or gender.

Family members can request that the veteran have a burial space near other family members buried or inured at Arlington provided limited space is not an issue.

Obtaining marker and headstones

Using the information provided by the next of kin, cemetery officials inscribe information on headstones or markers they order when burial takes place in a national cemetery, National park cemetery, or state veterans cemetery.

If a burial is to take place in a private cemetery, next of kin or a cemetery representative such as a funeral director are required to submit VA Form 40-1330, Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker for Installation in a Private Cemetery or State Veterans’ Cemetery. It is important to attach a copy of the veteran’s military discharge documents in order to request a headstone or marker provided by the government.

VA Form 40-1330 is available at any VA regional office

Fax the completed form and any evidence of military service to 800-455-7143 or mail it to:

Memorial Programs Service (41A1),

Department of Veterans’ Affairs,

5109 Russel Road, Quantico, VA 22134-3903

Requesting a presidential memorial certificate

To qualify for a presidential memorial certificate, a copy of the deceased’s death certificate and proof of honorable military service such as their DD Form 214 is required.

Family members must complete VA Form 40-0247, Presidential Memorial Certificate Request Form, available from any VA regional office (Appendix B) or online at

Fax the completed with attached evidence of honorable service and a copy of the death certificate to 800-455-7143 or mail it to:

Presidential Memorial Certificates (41A1C),

National Cemetery Administration,

5109 Russel Road, Quantico, VA 22134-3903

It is possible for the funeral home to offer a certificate to the family of the veteran. Some state veterans’ cemeteries automatically order a PMC for the family.

Obtaining a burial flag

Family members must request a flag with VA Form 21-2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes available at any VA regional offices United States Post Office.

The completed form with proof of military service such as DD Form 214 attached must be taken to any VA regional office or U.S. Post Office to receive a burial flag.

In most cases, a funeral directed is responsible for helping family members receive the burial flag. The flag is generally received by the cemetery staff if the burial takes place in a national cemetery, National Park Service cemetery, or state veterans cemetery.

  • Mark Lewis
    Posted at 22:43h, 27 September

    My father, a WW II Veteran died and was buried in 1963. I don’t think he had Military Honors when he was buried. Is it possible to arrange to have military honors for my father now?

  • Gregory Amerosn
    Posted at 21:17h, 23 July

    My father-in-law served in WWII.

    He was 92 years old and passed away last week. We do not have his discharge papers and nothing came up in the VA database using his SS#.

    The local Army Honor Guard (here in Los Angeles) has informed us that they can not send out a military Honor Guard unless they have his honorable discharge papers.

    The funeral is August 4th (two weeks away) is it possible to submit and receive the necessary paperwork to secure the ceremony prior to the date of the funeral ?

    Your prompt response is appreciated … GA

  • Bryan battaglia
    Posted at 15:14h, 28 April

    I’ve become overwhelmed with how to arrange transportation of a deceased retiree with a service related death from PA to Arlington national cemetery. I wish to use air transport and cannot find anything to show steps. The funeral director is inexperienced with military burials. It is not a creamation.
    Do I arrange a flight directly through the airlines?
    Do I use one of the civilian websites that offer transportation?
    Is this transportation expense completely out of pocket Or does the VA cover transport costs?
    Chapter 8 doesn’t seem to cover any info on transportation.

  • Margaux Ford
    Posted at 00:51h, 24 March

    I’m grateful for your advice on arranging military funeral honors for a veteran by contacting the honor guard agent for the branch of military service in which the deceased veteran served. My friend’s dad has recently passed away, and since he’s a veteran, they’d like to establish a military funeral honors. It’s good to know that assistance with organizing military funeral honors can be provided by veteran service organizations like the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars. Thanks for the tips!

    • Matt Terry
      Posted at 18:26h, 23 April

      Thank you for your comment! We aim to serve all those who serve(d).


  • Kail Schoen
    Posted at 20:10h, 24 August

    The link above for VA Form 21-530, Application for Burial Benefits appears to be broken. Can you please send me that link by email. Thank you

  • Joseph Lavarna
    Posted at 10:51h, 21 May

    Follow up: I did receive my later father’s PMC, almost 16 wks to the day of submission. So, the key is patience and a bit thanks to all concern.

  • Judy Williams
    Posted at 16:12h, 10 October

    My father-in-law passed last week and I have been unable to find the DD214 he received for service during WWII. Can you help me obtain this document, please?

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