On 8 December, 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, individuals can learn if they are eligible for burial or memorialization in a VA national cemetery. This change was made to assist veterans and their families in planning their burial needs better and may help reduce part of the burden on survivors at the time of death. The requirement to make arrangements at a VA operated cemetery at the time of need remains – plots are not reserved.
The VA will notify the veterans and their families of its determination of eligibility in writing and save their determinations with the supporting documentation in an electronic information system to expedite burial arrangements at the time of need. To make the final burial arrangements at any open VA national cemetery at the time of need, one must call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 800-535-1117. This is often done through a funeral director.
Note that because laws and personal circumstances change, upon receipt of a burial request, the VA will validate all pre-need determinations once again in accordance with the laws in effect at that time.
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.
To apply for a determination 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; or mail to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office, P.O. Box 510543, St. Louis, MO 63151.
Accordingly to the VA, it operates 135 national cemeteries and 33 soldiers’ lots in 40 states and Puerto Rico. More than 4 million Americans, including Veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in VA’s national cemeteries. VA also provides funding to establish, expand and maintain 105 Veterans cemeteries in 47 states and territories including tribal trust lands, Guam, and Saipan.
Information on all 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.
As of 10 December 2016