Who is Eligible for Burial in a National Cemetery?

Fort Logan National Cemetery

Fort Logan National Cemetery

Veterans often become confused about burial in this nation’s national cemeteries, when funeral homes and the Veterans Administration (VA) want to offer a less expensive and respectable way to honor America’s military men and women. Funeral homes often are involved in the arrangements, as the VA does not get involved in making funeral arrangements or in performing cremations.

While the benefits do not cover all costs, they can help make the funeral service more affordable. Additionally, no special forms are required to request burial in a VA national cemetery. The person who makes the funeral arrangements can have his or her funeral home contact the national cemetery in which burial is desired. Scheduling is done seven days a week for interments on Mondays through Fridays.

Much confusion remains about who can be buried at national cemeteries, however. The VA Web site offers this information in detail, and the list of the eligible persons is included below, followed by a list of those individuals who cannot be buried in a national cemetery:

Eligible

  • Veterans and Members of the Armed Forces, including Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
  • Member of Reserve Components and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps
  • Commissioned Officers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Public Health Service (Regular or Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service)
  • World War II Merchant Mariners
  • The Philippine Armed Forces
  • Spouses and Dependents
  • Others include “Such other persons or classes of persons as designated by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (38 U.S.C. § 2402(6)) or the Secretary of Defense (Public Law 95-202, § 401, and 38 CFR § 3.7(x)).”

Ineligible

  • Former Spouses
  • Other Family Members (such as sisters, brothers, etc.)
  • Disqualifying Characters of Discharge
  • Discharge from Draft
  • Person Found Guilty of a Capital Crime
  • Any person convicted of subversive activities after September 1, 1959. Eligibility will be reinstated if the President of the United States grants a pardon.
  • Active or Inactive Duty for Training
  • “Members of groups whose service has been determined by the Secretary of the Air Force under the provisions of Public Law 95-202 as not warranting entitlement to benefits administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.”

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