Some Facts You Should Know

Those Eligible – Because space is limited, burial at Arlington National Cemetery is restricted to a very few categories of those who have served honorably in the Armed Forces. These include:

  • Those who have died on active duty.

  • Those having at least 20 years active duty or active reserve services which qualifies them for retired pay either upon retirement or at age 60, and those retired for disability.

  • Veterans honorably discharged for 30% (or more) disability before 1 October 1949.

  • Holders of the Nation’s highest military decorations (Medal of Honor; Distinguished Service Cross, Air Force Cross or Navy Cross; Distinguished Service Medal; and Silver Star) or the Purple Heart.

  • Certain POW’s who died on or before November 30, 1993.

  • The spouse or unmarried minor (under 21) child of any of the above or of any person already buried in Arlington. An unmarried dependent student qualifies up to age 23.

  • An unmarried adult child which physical or mental disability acquired before age 21.

  • Provided certain special arrangements are met, a veteran who is a father, brother, sister or child of an eligible person already interred. Interment must be in the same grave as the primary eligible; the veteran’s spouse must waive his or her eligible for Arlington, and the veteran can have no dependent children at the time of death.

Those Not Eligible-Except as indicated above, parents, brothers, sisters or in-laws are not eligible, even if they are dependents of an eligible person. Neither is the remarried widow or widower of an eligible person, unless the former is no longer married at death. A person whose last discharge was less-than-honorable is also ineligible.

The Cremation Alternative-In addition to ground burial, Arlington has a Columbarium for cremated remains. Any honorably discharged veteran or his spouse or dependent children can be buried there. The ashes of a person who meets the criteria for burial can either be inured in the Columbarium or given ground interment, according to the wishes of the eligible or next-of-kin.

Requesting an Interment-The person (usually a Funeral Director) who arranges for interment should contact the Interment Services Offices as soon as possible. The Office is open 7:30 AM – 4:00 PM Monday through Friday, and 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM on Saturday. Call 703-695-3250.

During non-work hours, leave a message on the voice mail and the cemetery staff will return the calls during the next duty hours.

Cemetery personnel will verify eligibility. Do not ship remains until notified that verification has been made. Neither should the date, time, and place of interment be announced until confirmed by the Superintendant.

To ensure that all will go smoothly when interment is requested, it is a good idea to assemble honorable discharge papers, Dept. of Veteran Affairs disability findings, records of decorations, and other supporting documents before actual need. The caller requesting interment should be ready to provide the name of the veteran; service, social security, dates of enlistment and discharge; last grade held; branch of service, and dates of birth and death. These items should be filed with other important papers so that they will be readily available at the time of death.

Space Assignment-Cemetery personnel will assign a gravesite when interment is requested. Only one gravesite will be assigned per family. No site can be reserved before actual need. If the spouse or eligible child dies first, space will be assigned for the spouse’s or child’s interment provided the primary eligible agrees in writing to be buried in the same site.

Funeral Expenses-There is no charge for grave (or Columbarium niche) in Arlington National Cemetery, for opening and closing the grave, or for a government headstone or marker. Except for active duty personnel, all other costs must be borne by the family. Those who die on active duty are allotted a funeral expense allowance, and the Government will also pay in full for transportation of the remains of active duty personnel or their dependents from place of death to final destination. For retirees and veterans, both social security and veterans’ burial allowances can offset funeral costs in some instances. Contact a local VA or Social Security office for details on the respective benefits available.

Military Honors-Military personnel, retirees, and veterans may be interred with military honors if they are requested. The Superintendent of Arlington will assist in making arrangements for such honors.

Headstones and Markers-The VA provides upright marble headstones to mark the graves of those buried in Arlington. These headstones are ordered by the Cemetery at the time of interment. The next of kin is asked only to fill out a form verifying the correctness of what is to be inscribed on the stone. The VA also supplies memorial markers, which honor members of the Armed Forces whose remains have not been recovered. To secure such a marker, the next of kin should make a formal request to the Superintendent, Arlington National Cemetery for forwarding to the VA. Requests forms can be obtained from either the Superintendent’s Office or a local VA facility.

For additional Information or assistance with special problems or circumstances write:
Superintendent, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA 22211.

For more information on the Government Headstone and Marker Program, write:
Office of Memorial Programs (403), Dept. of Veterans Affairs, 810 Vermont Ave NW, Washington, DC 20420.