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VA Cemeteries Now Offering Pre-Need Eligibility

December 1, 2016

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) now provides eligibility determinations for burial in a VA national cemetery prior to the time of need. Upon request, individuals can learn if they are eligible for burial or memorialization in a VA national cemetery through the Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility Program.

45924364 - massachusetts national cemetery on memorial day displaying flagsMany families, especially those who are making advance planning arrangements for a veteran who is unable to make arrangements for himself or herself, will greatly benefit from this opportunity. The Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility Program will be especially helpful in situations where an individual had significant Reserve service and his or her eligibility is less definite.

“It will alleviate a lot of stress as to one’s eligibility for burial in a national cemetery. Veterans will now have confirmation in advance rather than having to scramble at the time of need,” said Vice President Joe Reardon. “We will certainly assist veterans and their families in completing the paperwork and filing it with the VA when making pre-need arrangements.”

In Massachusetts, eligible veterans may be buried at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne on Cape Cod. The beautiful grounds cover approximately 750 acres adjacent to the Otis Air National Guard Base and include a memorial trail where nearly 50 memorials and a carillon have been erected in memory of veterans from World War I to the modern era.

Interested veterans may submit the Application for Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility for Burial in a VA National Cemetery, VA Form 40-10007, to the VA National Cemetery Scheduling Office. If possible, applications should include supporting documentation, such as the most recent discharge document (DD Form 214) showing the highest rank, valor awards and decorations, as well as active duty service records. If you are unable to locate copies of military records, apply anyway, as VA will attempt to obtain records necessary to make a determination.

Applications will be reviewed by VA which will provide written notice of its determination of eligibility. To expedite burial arrangements at the time of need, VA will save the determinations and supporting documentation in an electronic information system. Because laws and personal circumstances change, VA will validate all pre-need determinations in accordance with the laws in effect at the time of a burial request.

Eligible individuals are entitled to burial in any open VA national cemetery; opening/closing of the grave; a grave liner; perpetual care of the gravesite; and a government-furnished headstone, marker or niche cover – all at no cost to the family. Veterans are also eligible for a burial flag and may be eligible for a Presidential Memorial Certificate. Information on VA burial benefits is available from local VA national cemetery offices at www.cem.va.gov or by calling VA regional offices at 800-827-1000.

To make burial arrangements at any open VA national cemetery at the time of need, call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 800-535-1117.

VA operates 135 national cemeteries and 33 soldiers’ lots in 40 states and Puerto Rico, including the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne. More than 4 million Americans, including Veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in VA’s national cemeteries. VA also provides funding to establish, expand and maintain 105 Veterans cemeteries in 47 states and territories including tribal trust lands, Guam, and Saipan. For Veterans buried in private or other cemeteries, VA provides headstones, markers or medallions to commemorate their service. In 2016, VA honored more than 345,000 Veterans and their loved ones with memorial benefits in national, state, tribal and private cemeteries.

Submit Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility Program Application and Supporting Documentation to VA by:
Email:
to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at eligibility.preneed@va.gov; or

Mail: to National Cemetery Scheduling Office, P.O. Box 510543, St. Louis, MO 63151; or

Fax: to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at (855) 840-8299

Photo credit : Angel Claudio/123RF.com

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