Last week, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced it now provides eligibility determinations for interment in a VA national cemetery prior to the time of need. Through the Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility Program, upon request, your families can learn if they are eligible for burial or memorialization in a VA national cemetery.
Information about the program is available on the VA website. When planning funerals in advance, you may wish to make families aware that they can begin the process of determining eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery in advance and assist them with submitting paperwork.
Interested individuals may submit VA Form 40-10007, Application for Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility for Burial in a VA National Cemetery, and supporting documentation, such as a DD Form 214, if readily available, to the VA National Cemetery Scheduling Office by:
- Toll-free fax at 1-855-840-8299
- Email to Eligibility.PreNeed@va.gov
- Mail to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office, P.O. Box 510543, St. Louis, MO 63151.
The VA will review applications and provide written notice of its determination of eligibility. The VA will save determinations and supporting documentation in an electronic information system to expedite burial arrangements at the time of need. Because laws and personal circumstances change, upon receipt of a burial request, the VA will validate all pre-need determinations in accordance with the laws in effect at that time.
The VA operates 135 national cemeteries and 33 soldiers’ lots in 40 states and Puerto Rico. More than four million Americans, including Veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in the VA’s national cemeteries. The VA also provides funding to establish, expand and maintain 105 veterans cemeteries in 47 states and territories including tribal trust lands, Guam, and Saipan. For veterans buried in private or other cemeteries, the VA provides headstones, markers or medallions to commemorate their service. In 2016, the VA honored more than 345,000 veterans and their loved ones with memorial benefits in national, state, tribal and private cemeteries.
Eligible individuals are entitled to burial in any open VA national cemetery, opening/closing of the grave, a grave liner, perpetual care of the gravesite, and a government-furnished headstone or marker or niche cover, all at no cost to the family. Veterans are also eligible for a burial flag and may be eligible for a Presidential Memorial Certificate.
Information on VA burial benefits is available from local VA national cemetery offices, from the Internet at www.cem.va.gov, or by calling VA regional offices toll-free at 800-827-1000. To make burial arrangements at any open VA national cemetery at the time of need, call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 800-535-1117.