For information on VA burial benefits, visit www.cem.va.gov or call 1-800-827-1000.
Our country will always be indebted to our military veterans, men and women who selflessly ensure our security and preserve our freedoms. We honor this commitment to our great nation by assisting families with obtaining all veterans' benefits, Social Security benefits and life insurance benefits. Benefits can include a memorial U.S. flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, a Veterans Administration headstone or marker, burial at Ft. McPherson National Cemetery, a military flag folder and presenter, and, for those who retired from the military, are disabled as a result of military service, or died while serving on active duty, full military honors by the branch of service with which the veteran served.
Who is eligible?
To be eligible you must be a veteran discharged or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable, and have completed the required period of service. U.S. Armed Forces members who die on active duty are also eligible, as are spouses and dependent children of eligible living and deceased veterans, and of current and deceased armed forces members. Contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at (800) 827-1000 for more information.
How do you apply?
Veterans’ benefits are not paid automatically. It is your responsibility to contact the Veterans Administration - we will assist you and file the claim on your behalf. To ensure prompt handling of your claim, have the following information ready:
• Social Security number for yourself and your dependent children
• Certified copy of original DD214 (Enlisted Record and Report of Separation)
• Certified copy of Death Certificate
• Verification of the life insurance amount you will receive as a result of the veterans death
• Paid receipts for hospital and doctor bills incurred by last illness, if applicable
• Paid receipts for funeral and cemetery expenses
• If either yourself or the veteran was previously married, provide a certified copy of the original divorce decree or death certificate proving the previous marriage was dissolved by divorce or death
• If there are dependent children, you will need an original birth certificate for each child under 18 or over 18 if full-time student
• If over 18 and still in school, you will need to fill out VA Form 21-674
• If you or the veteran receive Social Security benefits, the exact amount must be reported
• If you already have a VA claim number, you must furnish the claim number you have been assigned
• If you or the veteran receive additional income, the source and exact amount must be reported
Reimbursement of Burial Expenses
VA will pay a burial allowance up to $2,000 if the veteran's death is service connected. VA also will pay the cost of transporting the remains of a service-disabled veteran to the national cemetery nearest the home of a deceased that has available gravesites. In such cases, the person who bore the veteran's burial expenses may claim reimbursement from VA. VA will pay a $300 burial and funeral expense allowance for veterans who, at time of death, were entitled to receive pension or compensation or would have been entitled to compensation but for receipt of military retirement pay. Eligibility also is established when death occurs in a VA facility or a nursing home with which VA contracted. Additional costs of transportation of the remains may be reimbursed. There is no time limit for filing reimbursement claims of service-connected deaths. In other deaths, claims must be filed within two years after permanent burial or cremation.
VA will pay a $300 plot allowance when the veteran is not buried in a cemetery that is under U.S. Government jurisdiction if the veteran is discharged from active duty because of disability incurred or aggravated in line of duty, if the veteran was in receipt of compensation or pension or would have been in receipt of compensation but for receipt of military retired pay, or if the veteran died while hospitalized by VA. The plot allowance is not payable solely on wartime service.
If the veteran is buried without charge for the cost of a plot or interment in a state-owned cemetery reserved solely for veteran burials, the $300 plot allowance may be paid to the state. Burial expenses paid by the deceased's employer or a state agency will not be reimbursed.
Our government provides an American flag to drape the casket of a veteran and to a person entitled to retired military pay. After the funeral service, the flag may be given to the next of kin or a close associate. VA also will issue a flag on behalf of a service member who was missing in action and later presumed dead. Just let us know you would like one. Aspen can provide once we have a signed form from you. We would be happy to fold it also. Let us know.
Burial in National Cemeteries VA Cemeteries
Burial benefits in a VA national cemetery include the gravesite, opening and closing of the grave and perpetual care. Many national cemeteries have columbaria for the inurnment of cremated remains or special gravesites for the burial of cremated remains. Headstones and markers and their placement are provided at the government's expense.
Veterans and armed forces members who die on active duty are eligible for burial in one of VA's 114 national cemeteries. An eligible veteran must have been discharged or separated from active duty under honorable or general conditions and have completed the required period of service. Persons entitled to retired pay as a result of 20 years creditable service with a reserve component are eligible. A U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in a war also may be eligible.
Spouses and minor children of eligible veterans and of armed forces members also may be buried in a national cemetery. A surviving spouse of an eligible veteran who married a nonveteran, and whose remarriage was terminated by death or divorce, is eligible for burial in a national cemetery.
Gravesites in national cemeteries cannot be reserved. Funeral directors or others making burial arrangements must apply at the time of death. Reservations made under previous programs are honored. The National Cemetery System normally does not conduct burials on weekends. A weekend caller, however, will be directed to one of three strategically located VA cemetery offices that remain open during weekends to schedule burials at the cemetery of the caller's choice during the following week.
Headstones and Markers
VA provides headstones and markers for the unmarked graves of veterans anywhere in the world and for eligible dependents of veterans buried in national, state veteran or military cemeteries.
Flat bronze, flat granite, flat marble, upright granite and upright marble types are available to mark the grave in a style consistent with the place of burial. Niche markers also are available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains.
Headstones and markers are inscribed with the name of the deceased, the years of birth and death, and branch of service. Optional items that also may be inscribed at VA expense are: military grade, rank or rate; war service such as World War II; months and days of birth and death; an emblem reflecting one's beliefs; valor awards; and the Purple Heart. Additional items may be inscribed at private expense.
When burial is in a national, state veteran or military cemetery, the headstone or marker is ordered through the cemetery, which will place it on the grave. Information regarding style, inscription, shipping and placement can be obtained from the cemetery.
When burial occurs in a cemetery other than a national cemetery or a state veteran’s cemetery, the headstone or marker must be applied for from VA. It is shipped at government expense to the consignee designated on the application. VA, however, does not pay the cost of placing the headstone or marker on the grave.
To apply, you must complete VA form 40-1330. Be sure to include telephone numbers and signatures. Use the information on the DD-214 and other supporting documents to help you fill out the application as completely as possible. Forms and assistance are available at VA regional offices.
To apply, mail your application to the Quantico, Virginia, mailing address. You may use either the US Postal Service, or one of the mail delivery services commercially available. Their address is:
Memorial Programs Service (41A1)
Department of Veterans Affairs
5109 Russell Road
Quantico, VA 22134-3903
For information regarding the status of an application, you may call the Director, Office of Memorial Programs (403B3) at 1-800-697-6947.
VA cannot issue a headstone or marker for a spouse or child buried in a private cemetery. Twenty year reservists without active duty service are eligible for a headstone or marker, if they are entitled to military retired pay at the time of death.
Headstones or Markers for Memorial Plots
To memorialize an eligible veteran whose remains are not available for burial, VA will provide a plot and headstone or marker in a national cemetery. The headstone or marker is the same as that used to identify a grave except that the mandatory phrase "In Memory of" precedes the authorized inscription. The headstone or marker is available to memorialize eligible veterans or deceased active-duty members whose remains were not recovered or identified, were buried at sea, donated to science, or cremated and scattered. The memorial marker may be provided for placement in a cemetery other than a national cemetery. In such a case, VA supplies the marker and pays the cost of shipping, but does not pay for the plot or the placement of the marker. Only a relative recognized as the next of kin may apply for the benefit.
Presidential Memorial Certificates
The Presidential Memorial Certificate is a parchment certificate with a calligraphic inscription expressing the nation's recognition of the veteran's service. The veteran's name is inscribed and the certificate bears the signature of the President. Certificates are issued in the name of honorably discharged, deceased veterans. Eligible recipients include next of kin, other relatives and friends. The award of a certificate to one eligible recipient does not preclude certificates to other eligible recipients. The veteran may have died at any time in the past. The local VA regional office generally originates the application for a Presidential Memorial Certificate. The next of kin also may request a certificate. Requests should be accompanied by a copy of a document such as a discharge to establish honorable service. An applicant will need to certify that “to the best of your knowledge, that the decedent has never committed a Capital Crime or was never convicted of a sexual offense for which he or she was sentenced to a minimum of life imprisonment.” VA regional offices can assist in applying for certificates. For more information visit http://www.cem.va.gov/pmc.asp
Fort McPherson National Cemetery
12004 S Spur 56A
Maxwell, NE 69151-1031
Monday thru Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Closed federal holidays except Memorial Day.
Open daily from dawn until dusk.
To schedule a burial: Fax all discharge documentation to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-866-900-6417 and follow-up with a phone call to 1-800-535-1117.
Grave Location: At the time of interment, Ft. McPherson will provide a packet to the next of kin that includes a map of the cemetery with the grave location information. To locate graves of others who are buried here, please visit their public information center where you will find both automated and printed grave locators.
Military Funeral Honors
Any veteran who is buried in a national cemetery is entitled to military funeral honors that include folding and presentation of the U.S. flag to the next of kin and the playing of Taps. The flag detail will include two members of the armed forces, at least one of whom is from the branch of service in which the veteran served. A rifle volley may be provided if a qualified rifle detail is available. A volunteer rifle detail is available in North Platte and can be scheduled by calling (308) 534-4350 ext. 267.
Members of the armed forces can be scheduled by calling the following numbers:
Army (785) 239-3741
Marine Corps (866) 826-3628
Navy (877) 478-3988
Air Force (402) 294-6667
Coast Guard (314) 539-3900
The Department of Veterans Affairs does not provide military funeral honors and, while our staff is always willing to assist families in any way possible, the Department of Defense is responsible for providing military funeral honors. For additional information write to the following address:
Department of Defense
Directorate for Public Inquiry and Analysis
Room 3A750 The Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1400
Built in 1863, Fort McPherson was established to ensure peace along the western frontier between the immigrants traveling along the Oregon Trail and the Native American inhabitants. The troops originally stationed at the post provided military protection from hostile Native Americans during the construction of the railroad.
To meet the burial needs of the soldiers stationed at the post, a cemetery was established early in its history. The old post burial ground was later moved to southwest of the post and some 50 remains were moved to this location.
Establishment of the 20-acre Fort McPherson National Cemetery in 1873 afforded the space to relocate remains from the cemeteries abandoned when the number of settlers decreased. Burial records testify that life on the frontier was full of hardships and dangers similar to battlefield camps during times of war.
The cemetery lodge was built in 1876 and rehabilitated in 1951 and 2000. About one mile southeast of the cemetery a monument marks the site of the flagstaff of the old military post. Another monument marks the route used by the Pony Express over the Oregon Trail, which passes through the cemetery.
Monuments and Memorials
The cemetery has a digital carillon system that was donated by the Nebraska chapters of the American Legion, American Legion Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion. The carillon rings during the week to mark the time of day and plays selected devotional music on the weekend.
Cemetery floral policies are conspicuously posted and readily visible to the public.
Floral arrangements accompanying the casket or urn at the time of burial will be placed on the completed grave. Natural cut flowers may be placed on graves at any time of the year. They will be removed when they become unsightly. Metal, plastic and paper temporary flower containers are permitted. Glass containers are not allowed.
Artificial flowers may be placed on graves during the period of Oct. 10 through March 15.
Potted Plants are permitted on graves 10 days before and 10 days following Easter Sunday.
Memorial Day decoration will be removed from graves seven days following the holiday. Please note we do allow you to place artificial flowers during the Memorial Day week as an exception to the rules.
Christmas wreaths, and grave blankets are permitted on graves during the Christmas season. They will be removed no later than Jan. 10 of each year. Grave floral blankets may not be larger than two by three feet.
Plantings are not permitted on the graves at any time. Statues, vigil lights, balloons, breakable objects of any nature and similar commemorative items are not permitted on graves.
Please do not secure any items the headstones or markers; floral items or other decorations included.
With the windy conditions that often exist here, we recommend that floral items have a small identification tag on them, so if we find them blown off the grave we can return them to the correct gravesite.
Cemetery personnel will remove floral items from the graves as soon as they become faded and unsightly. The cemetery director reserves the right to remove and destroy without notice, anything left on graves that violates the intent of these regulations, offends the sensibilities of the public or the dignity of this cemetery, and is an eyesore or a threat to the safety of the public or personnel of Fort McPherson National Cemetery.