VA Says Veterans May Now Apply in Advance for Burial in a Veterans Cemetery
While most civilian cemeteries have long offered individuals the opportunity to buy a burial plot ahead of time, the VA has required that the families of veterans must wait to apply for burial until after the veteran has passed away. This policy has added to the stress families face when a loved one dies, even if the death was anticipated.
Finally, last week the VA announced it has changed its policy and will now allow veterans to apply prior to their deaths for burial in a veterans cemetery.
According to a VA press release, "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; or mail to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office, P.O. Box 510543, St. Louis, MO 63151.
"VA will review applications and provide written notice of its determination of eligibility. 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, VA will validate all pre-need determinations in accordance with the laws in effect at that time."
It was noted that this does not allow veterans to choose a particular plot within the cemetery, but only the cemetery where they wish to be buried. In addition, this does not apply to Arlington National Cemetery, which is run by the Department of the Army, not the Department of Veterans Affairs.
As a reminder, eligible individuals are entitled to burial in any open VA national cemetery, opening/closing of the grave, a grave liner, perpetual care of the grave-site, and a government-furnished headstone or marker or niche cover, all at no cost to the family. Burial benefits available for spouses and dependents buried in a national cemetery include burial with the Veteran, perpetual care, and the spouse or dependents name and date of birth and death will be inscribed on the Veteran's headstone, at no cost to the family. Eligible spouses and dependents may be buried, even if they predecease the Veteran.
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 .