Any deceased eligible Veteran can receive a free headstone from The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in any cemetery. The deceased must have been on active duty or honorably discharged. A copy of their discharge papers is required, and the process currently takes around 60 days.
For information on eligibility for burial allowance, follow this link: https://www.benefits.va.gov/BENEFITS/factsheets/burials/Burial.pdf
Details on headstones from https://www.cem.va.gov/funeraldirector.asp can be found below.
Headstones, Markers and Medallions
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a Government headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible Veteran in any cemetery around the world, regardless of their date of death.
A Government-furnished headstone or marker may be provided for eligible Veterans who died on or after Nov. 1, 1990 and whose grave is marked with a privately purchased headstone. A Government-furnished medallion may be provided for eligible Veterans who served on or after Apr. 6, 1917 and whose grave is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker.
Flat markers in granite, marble, and bronze and upright headstones in granite and marble are available. Bronze niche markers are also available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains. The style chosen must be permitted by the officials in charge of the private cemetery where it will be placed.
When burial or memorialization is in a national cemetery, state Veterans’ cemetery, or military post/base cemetery, a headstone or marker will be ordered by the cemetery officials based on inscription information provided by the next of kin or authorized representative.
Spouses and dependents are not eligible for a Government-furnished headstone or marker unless they are buried in a national cemetery, state Veteran’s cemetery, or military post/base cemetery.
Note: There is no charge for the headstone or marker itself, however arrangements for placing it in a private cemetery are the applicant’s responsibility and all setting fees are at private expense.
Setting Government Headstones and Markers
Cemetery staff in national, military post, and military base cemeteries are responsible for setting the headstone or marker at no cost to the applicant. Some state Veterans’ cemeteries may charge the applicant a nominal fee for setting a Government-furnished headstone or marker.
Arrangements for setting a Government-furnished headstone or marker in a private cemetery are the applicant’s responsibility and all placement costs are at private expense.
Cleaning and Caring for Government Headstones and Markers
The National Park Service’s National Center for Preservation Technology and Training completed a study in 2011 to evaluate general cleaning needs of marble government-issued headstones. The findings are found in Best Practice Recommendations for Cleaning Government-Issued Headstones.
Checking Status of a Headstone, Marker or Medallion Request
To obtain the status of headstones or markers ordered for national or state cemeteries, please contact the cemetery directly.
To obtain the status of headstones or markers ordered for private cemeteries, please use the following instructions: If more than 30 days have passed since your claim was submitted to the VA in Washington, D.C. by you, or someone assisting you, please call the VA Applicant Assistance Unit, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (ET), Monday through Friday, at 1-800-697-6947, to verify we are in receipt of your claim.
If more than 60 days have passed since submitting your claim and the grave is still not marked, you should contact the cemetery, funeral home, or other party responsible for accepting delivery of the headstone, marker or medallion to see if they have received it. If they have not received it, you may call our Applicant Assistance Unit between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (ET), Monday through Friday, at 1-800-697-6947.
Please Note: The above telephone number is for questions related to headstones, markers and medallions only ordered for private cemeteries.
For assistance in obtaining Veterans’ records or for information on other VA benefits, please call your local Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office at 1-800-827-1000.
Memorial Headstones and Markers
Memorial headstones and markers, for individuals or groups, are furnished for eligible deceased active duty service members and Veterans whose remains are not recovered or identified, are buried at sea, donated to science or whose cremated remains have been scattered.
Memorial headstones and markers may also be furnished in national, military post/base or state Veterans cemeteries to eligible spouses whose remains are unavailable for interment, whether or not they predecease the eligible Veteran.
These headstones and markers bear an “IN MEMORY OF” inscription as their first line and must be placed in a recognized cemetery.
Memorial headstones and markers for spouses and other dependents are not available for placement in private cemeteries.
A VA Form 40-1330, Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker must be submitted to request a burial or memorial headstone or marker.
For more help with military funerals, click here.