Eligibility for Military Burial

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 to dignify and commemorate the deceased veteran who 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. 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 criterion exists to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. One imperative criterion 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 specific unmarried adult children of the eligible veteran.

Service members must consent in writing that they prefer to be buried at the same site if spouses or children pass first.

  • Glen A Johnson
    Posted at 13:20h, 01 September Reply

    I enlisted in the Army in 1971. Was sent to Germany where I served as a medic for most of my tour until receiving an honorable discharge. All my medical work, including meds are with the VA since I got out. Am I eligible for a military burial? I’ve heard my spouse is also. Where can I find out more on this? Thanks.

    Posted at 20:19h, 04 January Reply

    My brother serve I think 3 tours in Vietnam. He pass away about 3 to 4 years. I have his ashes and I want him intern at Quantico. What do I do to make this happen.

  • John zeimen
    Posted at 19:09h, 22 December Reply

    I server in the Navy as enlisted from 1985 to 1996, and was honorably discharged. Am I eligible for burial assistance? How able my wife? Thanks

  • David cherry
    Posted at 14:41h, 30 November Reply

    My father was in the Navy for two years got out and worked his hole life in management. He passed away 9 years ago. My mother as of yet still have his ashes buried in the closet. He was a good man and always provided for his family. He stayed in a marriage that was extremely toxic and this women is still toxic today. I want to give my Dad what he deserves for servings his country and his family. Can someone direct me as to how I can give him the honer he deserves. All my dad’s brothers were military some worked with JFK during the cuban crisis.
    I’m also looking for legal survice to start a foundation for military men in dysfunctional relationships.
    Reply to starion1956@yahoo.com

  • Jeanetta Starr
    Posted at 14:54h, 16 September Reply

    I was in army did basic training in July 1980 came home in November 1980 went back in February 1981 regular Army got out on a pregnant discharge in March 1982 but they keep my Reserve time obligations to 1986. Do i still qualified for burial at VA cemetery.

    • John zeimen
      Posted at 19:10h, 22 December Reply

      I server in the Navy as enlisted from 1985 to 1996, and was honorably discharged. Am I eligible for burial assistance? How able my wife? Thanks

  • Jill Kirkland
    Posted at 02:20h, 14 July Reply

    My son is not a military veteran, but served 6 years as a military contractor in Afganistan and Iraq, where he sustained an injury that after surgery and rehab wasn’t healed 100%, so had to leave his job. Part of his job was clearing roads of mines and explosives before the military convoys drove on those roads. He is a patriot and now works in law enforcement and his biggest wish is to be buried in a National Cemetary. I am an honorably discharged Veteran (WAC/Reg. Army) and would love to give up my “spot” so that he could be buried with my military benefits. Is this possible????

  • Teresa Lynne Davenport
    Posted at 00:45h, 19 June Reply

    How can I find out about my first husband’s military activity. Like, if he went to war

  • Terrance Connor
    Posted at 06:21h, 23 February Reply

    My son died on 16 Feb 2019. The cause of death was congested Heart failure. He served In the Navy from March 23, 1989, to September 18, 1992 (net time is 3 years, 1 month & 23 days). His type of discharge was “Bad-Conduct”. I called 1-800-535-1117 and requested he be buried in a national cemetery. They told me that due to the type of discharge he received, his case would have to be looked over by the Legal office to make a determination if he can be buried in a VA cemetery. They gave me Case # 9833013 and told me this process would take awhile. I checked the Eligibility for Military Burial web page and it states “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”.
    My question is, what are the factors that the legal office look at to determine his eligibility. I looked everywhere and could not find anything. If possible, could you please point me to the WEB page that has the eligibility criteria. I’m concerned the legal office will not have all the facts to make an accurate determination

  • Amy Winters
    Posted at 18:24h, 28 January Reply

    Thanks for pointing out that veterans will be eligible for military burials if they died as a result of a service-related disability. My father-in-law is a veteran and his health is quickly declining. I’m glad to hear he should be eligible for a military burial.

  • Pat Pendergast
    Posted at 21:11h, 12 September Reply

    My father served in the Navy 32 years Vietnam – ?? he was stationed at Lemoore Naval Air Base and was a Commander Master Chief (ATC) is he eligible for Arlington?

  • Francis Benson
    Posted at 14:58h, 01 August Reply

    My father served in the army of 72 to 75 he was stationed in Hawaii and was honorably dischargedin 75 is he eligible for a military burial?

  • Mary Hunt
    Posted at 23:34h, 05 July Reply

    Hi my husband was in the army in 1946 for 7 months and in the air force in 1947 for 6 months. He has honoarble discharge papers. Can he be buried in a national cemetary although he did not serve 24 months?

  • Tony B. Rolland
    Posted at 23:51h, 03 July Reply

    I was in the active army for 5 mos. and 3 days. I was moved to reserve status and was Honorably Discharged in March of 1971.
    do iI qualify for burial in a VA Cemetary?

  • John R Rogers 3rd
    Posted at 18:44h, 25 October Reply

    I also get a VA pension of under $100.00 not much gas money .

  • John R Rogers 3rd
    Posted at 18:29h, 25 October Reply

    I was drafted in 1970 did my tour in Germany ,have never used any of my benefits from VA and now my hearing is going will VA help with hearing aids ,Live in lower Delaware now near Georgetown De. Need help

  • russell d cress
    Posted at 14:59h, 21 October Reply

    i was drafted and went to vietnam in 1970 as an infantry soldier, i got out of the army then got back in in 1981, i went to dessert storm in the mechanized infantry , i got remarried in in 2015 and now live in oil city , pa. , i am originally from butler , pa. could you tell me how i can get a burial place for both me and my wife at a reasonable cost and at some place close by from oil city , pa., i live on a fixed income of $2387.71 and have other bills to pay. thank you.

    • Adam
      Posted at 17:04h, 24 October Reply

      Russell, you will need to contact your regional VA benefits office. You can find your regional office’s number at: https://www.benefits.va.gov/BENEFITS/offices.asp

    • Carman
      Posted at 15:40h, 06 May Reply

      My husband was in the army for 1 year from 1991-1992. He was honorable discharged. Does he still qualify for a military burial.

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