VA provides headstones and markers for the graves of veterans anywhere in the world and for eligible dependents of veterans buried in national veteran, state veteran, or military cemeteries. Flat bronze, flat granite, flat marble, upright granite and upright marble types are available to mark the grave in a style consistent with the place of burial. Niche markers also are available to mark columbaria used for the interment of cremated remains.
Headstones and markers are inscribed with the name of the deceased, the years of birth and death, and branch of service. Optional items that also may be inscribed at VA expense are; military grad, rank or rate, war service (example: “World War II”) months and days of birth and death; an emblem reflecting one’s religious beliefs; valor awards, and the Purple Heart. Additional items may be inscribed at private expense.
All markers to be placed in private cemeteries are ordered through the County Veteran Service Office. Markers to be placed in state veterans or military cemeteries are ordered through the respective cemetery officials.
VA will pay a burial allowance of up to $2,000 if the veteran’s death is service connected. VA also will pay the cost of transporting the remains of a service connected disabled veteran to the national cemetery nearest the home of the deceased that has available grave sites. In such cases, the person who bore the veteran’s burial expenses may claim reimbursement from VA. VA will pay a $300 burial and funeral expense allowance for veterans who at the time of death, were entitled to receive pension or compensation. Eligibility is also established when death occurs in a VA facility or a nursing home with which VA contracted. Additional costs of transportation of the remains may be reimbursed. There is no time limit for filing reimbursement claims of service connected deaths. In other deaths, claims must be filed within 2 years after permanent burial or cremation.
VA will pay up to $700 for a plot allowance when the veteran is not buried in a cemetery that is under U.S. government jurisdiction if the veteran was entitled to receive pension or compensation, or if the veteran died while hospitalized by VA.
VA provides an American flag to drape the casket of an Active Duty veteran, a person entitled to retired military pay and to a reservist who completed at least one enlistment in the Selected Reserve. After the funeral service, the flag may be given to the next of kin or a close associate.
VA also will issue a flag on behalf of a service member who was missing in action and later presumed dead. In La Crosse County, flags are issued to funeral homes through the County Veterans Service Office.
Burial benefits in a VA national Cemetery include the gravesite, opening and closing of the grave, and perpetual care. Many national cemeteries have columbaria for the interment of cremated remains or special gravesites for the burial of cremated remains.
Spouses and minor children of eligible veterans and of armed forces members also may be buried in a national cemetery. A surviving spouse of an eligible veteran who married a non-veteran, and who is again single at the time of death, is eligible for burial in a national cemetery.
Gravesites in national cemeteries cannot be reserved. Funeral directors or others making burial arrangements must apply at the time of death.