The Department of Veterans Affairs provides grave markers or medallions and burial flags for all eligible veterans. This is a great opportunity for you to “Save A Grave” of a veteran by getting the grave marked with the headstone they deserve.
The Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration manages 131 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico. VA National Cemetery directors verify eligibility for burial in VA national cemeteries. When the Veteran is burial a national cemetery or state Veterans cemetery, the headstone or marker is ordered through the cemetery, which will place it on the grave. The cemetery will help you regarding style, inscription and placement of the marker. You can view this website http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/bbene/eligible.asp to read eligibility guidelines.
Announced by the Department of Veterans Affaires on January 31, a new policy implementing the Corey Shea Act. After Army Spc. Corey M. Shea passed away his mother petitioned Congress to allow her to be buried alongside her son and the bill was passed in 2010. The service member can not have any surviving spouse or children at the time of passing. Only two parents may be buried alongside the service member. There are limitations with the policy like the service member must have been killed by hostile fire or in certain training accidents since October 7, 2001. Eligibility is limited to only two biological or legally adopted parents of the deceased service member.
To have a marker placed in any other cemetery you must apply for the marker by using the application form. For a new burial the funeral home can give you a helping hand. It is shipped at government expense to the consignee designated on the application. VA, however, does not pay the cost of placing the headstone or marker on the grave. You will need to check with the manger or caretaker of the cemetery to follow rules about placing the marker. Don’t try to place the headstone yourself, there can be issues with sinking so it’s best to have a professional take care of placing the headstone.
If the Veteran died before 1 Nov 1990 in order to receive a headstone the grave must be unmarked or the headstone destroyed. You must submit a picture of the destroyed headstone with your request. Twenty-year reservists without active-duty service are eligible for a marker, if they are entitled to military retired pay at the time of death.
If you are the next-of-kin to the Veteran then you will have no problem submitting the application form. If you are helping the next-of-kin, they need to give you Authorization to represent them in this process. If the grave is too old to have living next-of-kin you will need to do some research to find a decedent. If you can not find any decedents the VA has been known to accepted the requests of cemetery administrators instead. On the application form under next-of-kin place the word “Deceased” or “Not Available”. Once you have submitted the application someone from VA will call you.
You should pick the style of marker consistent with the existing monuments at the place of burial. You may choice from flat bronze, flat granite, flat marble or an upright marble headstone. Niche markers are available for the inurnment of cremated remains.
You have optional items that can be inscribed, some at private expense. VA will inscribe the name, years of birth and death, and branch of service. If you like they can add military grade, rank, war service or valor awards received.
Using the information on the DD-214 and other supporting documents, fill out the application (VA Form 40-1330) as completely as possible. Be sure to include telephone numbers and signatures. To be sure you are using the most current version of the application form, select the following link http://www.cem.va.gov/hm_hm.asp
Read the General Information and Note: On the right hand side of page are important Links, select the one(s) that apply to your situation.
The VA forms that need to be filed out can be downloaded from the website http://www.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA40-1330.pdf If you find the form is to hard for you to fill out you may want to ask for help. Contact a local funeral home, VFW, Historical Socieites or County Veterans Service Office. The toll free number for information is 800-827-6947.
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Tips For A Successful VA Headstone Application by Marc Chase