Honorably discharged veterans, their spouses and dependent children are eligible for free cemetery burial benefits in national cemeteries. The cash value depends on the type of burial desired. It may be considerable when the benefit includes free grave spaces, free grave liners, free opening and closing and a free marker for both the veteran and his or her spouse and their under age children.
Local cemeteries may offer a “Veterans Section” or free grave space. But there is a catch. The grave space may be free but they charge for the liner, opening and closing, and marker. The veteran’s spouse is required to pay full price for all expenses.
Procedures One cannot reserve property in advance at a national cemetery. Funeral directors normally make all of the arrangements necessary for interment at the time of death of the first family member. The veteran’s honorable discharge papers or DD 214 forms contain all of the information necessary for these arrangements to be made. It is prudent to have these papers available if this benefit is desired.
When spouses are involved, the first burial is made in the part of the cemetery where current new burials are being made. Since many families are being served each day, all committal services are done at permanent shelters within the cemetery rather than at the actual grave sites. When the second family member dies, the casket is taken to the original grave site for the second interment.
Cremated remains are buried or inurned in national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains. This benefit also applies to both husband and wife and their dependent children. It does not make any difference who dies first. The same admission criteria applies as for a casket burial.
It is worth noting that cremated remains can be sent by mail. This makes the approximately 119 national cemeteries as accessible as the local post office.
Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., is operated by the Department of the Army and may be less accessible than other national cemeteries. However, if one desires the placement of cremated remains in Arlington, it is worth checking.
Other Veterans Benefits
If the veteran is receiving a regular veteran’s disability pension and dies while in a veteran’s hospital or other veteran facility, or under care contracted by the Veterans Administration, other burial funds may be available.
The veteran’s family is entitled to one burial flag.
If a private cemetery is used, then the veteran (but not the spouse) is entitled to a marker. The cemetery, however, may charge a setting fee.
Arkansas National Cemeteries
There are three national cemeteries located in Arkansas: Fayetteville National Cemetery, Fort Smith National Cemetery, and Little Rock National Cemetery.
Veterans then have benefits that have a significant monetary value. Although national cemetery expenses are free, the family is still responsible for other expenses. These consist of services provided by the funeral home and the cost of merchandise. These expenses often cost several thousand dollars.