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Monday, November 1, 2010

Veterans’ Benefits: Burial Benefits and National Cemeteries

Christine Scott
Specialist in Social Policy

Burial benefits are monetary and nonmonetary benefits that eligible veterans receive for their military service. Nonmonetary burial benefits have been provided to servicemembers and veterans since the Civil War. Monetary burial benefits have been provided to servicemembers and veterans since World War I.

Eligible veterans and active duty members of the Armed Forces can be interred in national cemeteries and can receive government-furnished headstones or markers, presidential memorial certificates, and burial flags. Their spouses or surviving spouses, minor children, and, under certain conditions, unmarried adult children may also be buried in national cemeteries.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) burial allowances are partial reimbursements for eligible veterans’ burial and funeral costs. The allowance amount provided depends on whether the veteran’s cause of death was service-connected or non-service-connected, or whether the death occurred in a VA facility. The next of kin to the veteran is eligible for reimbursement if he or she paid for the veteran’s burial or funeral and has not been reimbursed by another government agency or some other source, such as the deceased veteran’s employer.

The development of national cemeteries began as a result of the increasing number of Civil War casualties. The National Cemetery Act of 1867 was the first major piece of legislation to provide funds for, and directives about, national cemeteries. Today, there are 131 national cemeteries, along with 33 soldier’s lots and monument sites, under the jurisdiction of the VA.

Several bills have been introduced in the 111
th Congress that would affect nonmonetary and monetary benefits, and national cemeteries: H.R. 174, H.R. 217, H.R. 731, H.R. 1037, H.R. 1114, H.R. 1163, H.R. 2586, H.R. 2594, H.R. 2642, H.R. 3544, H.R. 3949, H.R. 4044, H.R. 4045, H.R. 5879, H.R. 6042, S. 691, S. 728, and S. 746.

This report provides a descriptive analysis of both nonmonetary and monetary burial benefits and national cemeteries. It addresses congressional and constituent issues, such as who is eligible to receive burial benefits; who can be buried in a national cemetery; what plans does the VA have to build new or expand existing national cemeteries; and what benefits does the VA provide, among others. These issues may be of particular interest to Congress due to the aging of the veteran population, the changes to eligibility requirements, and recent VA report findings and recommendations related to the establishment of national cemeteries.

Date of Report: October 18, 2010
Number of Pages: 23
Order Number: R41386
Price: $29.95

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