Who qualifies for burial in a national military cemetery?
If the deceased person was an honorably discharged veteran of the military, or if the deceased person was an unremarried surviving spouse or dependent child of a veteran, the deceased person's body may be buried in a national military cemetery. Family members may be buried in a national military cemetery even if the eligible service member is still alive.
Where are the national military cemeteries in Arizona?
Located in northern Phoenix, the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona has space available to accommodate casketed and cremated remains. If you want to schedule a burial, send all discharge documentation by fax to the national scheduling office at (866) 900-6417 and follow up with a phone call to (800) 535-1117. For more information about the Phoenix facility, visit www.cem.va.gov/CEMs/nchp/nmca.asp or call the cemetery directly at (480) 513-3600.
The second national cemetery in Arizona is located in Prescott. It is closed to new casket burials although they will accommodate casketed remains of subsequent family members in the same gravesite of previously interred family members. In addition, they have space for cremated remains in a columbarium. For more information about the Prescott facility, visit www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/prescott.asp or call the National Cemetery at (480) 513-3600.
What about an Honor Guard?
The National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona has a full time Honor Guard made up of representatives of local veterans service organizations. Upon request, they will provide a 10-15 minute non-denominational service, rifle salute, and playing of Taps.
What other options are there?
In addition, there is a military cemetery operated by the Arizona Department of Veterans' Services in Sierra Vista. The application for interment is on their website at http://dvs.az.gov/services/cemetery.aspx or by calling (520) 458-7144. The Southern Arizona Veterans' Memorial Cemetery is not intended for regular services, but a brief military honor service is provided.
A final option is the Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington DC. The eligibility rules and cost allocation are the same as Arizona cemeteries. You are responsible for the entire cost of transporting the casketed or cremated remains to the cemetery.
Will the VA handle all final arrangements for free?
No, this is a common misunderstanding. The Department of Veterans Affairs does not make funeral arrangements or perform cremations. The family is responsible for making these arrangements with a funeral or cremation provider. The VA cemeteries are intended solely to provide space for casketed and cremated remains. Transportation to the cemetery is also not included.
Other benefits available from the VA cemeteries include a government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate. These benefits are also available at no cost if the deceased person's body is buried at a private cemetery.
Is there still a burial allowance?
In certain circumstances, the Veterans Benefits Administration will provide a burial allowance. If the death was not service-related, then the deceased person's estate may qualify for up to $300 toward burial and funeral expenses and an additional $300 for plot interment. If the death happened while the veteran was in a VA hospital or under VA contracted nursing home care, some or all of the costs for transporting the veteran's remains may be reimbursed. The allowance must be applied for by filling out Form 21-530. More information is available at the VA's website: www.cem.va.gov/bbene/benvba.asp
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