From Arlington, Virginia to Seaside, California, veterans cemeteries stand as a somber tribute to our fallen heroes – the men and women who have served our country honorably over the course of our nation’s history.
Offering free burial, memorial and funeral benefits is a way to honor the service and sacrifice of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and provide a final resting place and a place of remembrance for military veterans and their dependents.
Here’s a quick look at these important benefits.
CalVet provides various options for burial and memorialization at its three California State Veterans Cemeteries: California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery in Seaside, the Northern California Veterans Cemetery in Igo and the Yountville Veterans Cemetery in Yountville. In addition, of 135 national cemeteries maintained by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Cemetery Administration, nine are in California. Services will vary at each location, depending on various factors.
Memorial Headstones and Markers:
The VA will provide, free of charge, a granite, marble or bronze headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world, regardless of their date of death. Memorial headstones and markers are furnished for eligible deceased active-duty service members and for 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 for eligible spouses and other dependents whose remains are unavailable for interment, whether or not they predecease the eligible veteran. Headstones and markers bear the inscription “In Memory Of.” Contact cemetery officials to request one.
Military Funeral Honors:
Military Funeral Honors are a benefit provided by the Department of Defense. This service involves two or more uniformed service members folding and presenting a U.S. burial flag to the family, and the playing of Taps. A gun salute by a rifle squad is reserved for veterans who retired from military service, service members killed on active duty and Medal of Honor recipients. Every veteran eligible for interment at a CalVet veterans cemetery is entitled to Military Funeral Honors. A veteran’s family or funeral home must request this service. A burial flag to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran may also be provided. The flag is generally given to the next of kin, as a keepsake, after its use during the service. Request one by submitting VA Form 27-2008.
Veteran spouses and dependents may also be entitled to burial benefits, provided they meet the eligibility criteria established by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Learn more about eligibility here.
Planning in advance:
Establishing eligibility in advance is one way to pre-plan and make things easier for family members at the time of death. CalVet offers a pre-need, eligibility for burial benefits determination for establishing eligibility in advance. There is no cost to apply and establishing eligibility does not obligate the veteran or dependents to be buried at the cemetery. For national cemeteries, the VA also offers pre-need burial eligibility. Learn more about how to apply here.