Those who served their country honorably are entitled to special burial rights and death benefits. The following groups of service members are eligible for burial in a national cemetery with a marker and a flag.
Group 1 – Armed forces members that encompass the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Space Force and Coast Guard with the following requirements:
- Any service member that has died during active duty
- Any veteran with the discharge status other than dishonorable under the following conditions: if an officer whose service began after October 16, 1981, or enlisted member whose service began after September 7, 1980, must have served a minimum of 24 continuous months or the full period in which they were called to active duty.
Group 2 – Reserve members
- Any Reservist or National Guard member who, at the time of death, was entitled to retired pay under Chapter 1223, title 10, United States Code, or would have been entitled, except for the fact they weren’t under the age of 60
- Any veteran of the Guard or Reserve who was honorably discharged and put in at least 20 years of qualifying service. One year of qualifying service is defined as one in which you have accrued at least 50 points towards retirement
- Any member of the Reserve Army National Guard or Air National Guard who had died during hospitalization or treatment at government expense for an injury or disease that was contracted or incurred while serving on active duty for training or in active-duty training or undergoing such hospitalization for such treatment
- Any member of the ROTC or Reserve Officers Training Corps of the Army, Navy or Air Force who died under honorable conditions while attending an authorized training camp will cruise or while performing authorized travel to or from these camps or cruise or hospitalized or undergoing treatment at government expense for injury or diseases contracted or incurred under honorable conditions while performing one of these activities
- Any member of the Reserves who while on active duty for training were disabled or died from a disease or injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty or during a period of inactivity duty training were disabled or died from an injury or certain cardiovascular disorders incurred or aggravated in the line of duty
Group 3 – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officers, formally known as the Coast and Geodetic Survey and the Environmental Science Services Administration, who served full-time duty on or after July 29, 1945. In the case that the veteran has already died, family members may add headstones or markers of the former servicemember.
- Those serving before July 29, 1945, if he or she was assigned to an area of immediate military hazard as determined by the Secretary of Defense while in the time of war or international emergency declared by the President or in the Philippine Islands on December 7, 1941, and continuously in such islands thereafter
Group 4 – Public Health Service
- Any Commissioned Officer of the Regular or Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service serving full-time duty on or after July 29, 1945, and who were disabled or died from any disease or injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty
- Any Commissioned Officer of Regular or Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service who served prior to July 29, 1945, serving in time of war on detail for duty with the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard or while service was part of military forces of the United States pursuant to Executive Order of the President
- Any Commissioned Officer serving on inactive duty training who died as a result from an injury incurred or aggravated in the line of duty
Group 5 – World War II Merchant Mariners
- Any Merchant Mariners with oceangoing service during the period of armed conflict from December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946, are eligible as well as US Merchant Mariners who served on blockships in support of Operation Mulberry during World War II
Group 6 – Philippine Armed Forces
- These burial rights are extended to certain Philippine veterans of World War II. The following requirements must be met in order to receive these burial rights: The Philippine veteran must have been a citizen of the United States or an alien that was legally admitted for permanent residents who were residing in the US at the time of their death and have served before July 1, 1946, in the organized military forces of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines while those forces were in service of the US Armed Forces(including guerrilla forces under commanders appointed designated or subsequently recognized by the Commander-in-Chief, Southwest Pacific area or other competent authority in the US Army) and who died on or after November 1, 2000, or those veterans who were enlisted between October 6, 1945, and June 30, 1947, with the Armed Forces of United States with the consent of the Philippine government died on or after December 16th, 2003
Group 7 – Spouses and Dependents
- Spouses and dependents of an eligible veteran are able to be buried in a national cemetery under the following conditions:
- Any surviving spouse of an eligible veteran even if that veteran is not buried in a national cemetery
- Any surviving spouse of an eligible veteran who has remarried a non-veteran basing entitlement on the marriage to the deceased eligible veteran
- Children of an eligible veteran may be buried in a national cemetery if they meet the following criteria: if the child is a minor child defined as unmarried and under the age of 21 or under the age of 23 and a full-time student at an approved educational institution or any age adult child who has become permanently physically or mentally disabled and is incapable of self-support before the age of 21, or 23 if he or she is a full-time student at an approved educational institution. (Documentation of a disability must be provided)
Veterans having a less than honorable discharge such as undesirable or bad conduct discharge can have their eligibility status for burial rights evaluated by the VA Regional Office for determination.
INDIVIDUALS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR A NATIONAL CEMETERY BURIAL
- Former spouses of veterans whose marriage ended for a reason other than death such as divorce or annulment
- Extended family members other than the surviving spouse and dependent children
- Veterans with a dishonorable discharge
- Those individuals in the National Guard or Reserve whose only service was active duty for training or inactive duty training
- Those individuals who reported for a draft but were not inducted into the military
- Those individuals convicted of subversive activity
- Those individuals convicted of a capital crime
If you are unsure whether a recently deceased individual is a former veteran you can verify their status by calling the VA’s toll-free benefits number at 1 (800) 827–1000 or contact a local regional VA office representative. You would need to have the following information available when you call: the deceased veteran’s name, VA claim number (if known), social security number, date of birth, branch of military service, service dates, service number. The VA will not be able to grant eligibility for unidentified remains.