A number of Memorial Day ceremonies and programs are getting set to take place this weekend and on Monday, to honor the many fallen military veterans in U.S. history.
Across the U.S., approximately 3.5 million gravesites, at 135 national cemeteries, are maintained by the National Cemetery Administration.
Being buried in a VA national cemetery is something many military veterans in the United States hope for, but there are a number of requirements that must be followed to do so.
Covington County Veterans Service Officer Brian Foshee said that despite the numerous requirements, there is one major requirement.
“The No. 1 requirement is to have received an honorable discharge from the military,” Foshee said.
Military veterans of any branch of the armed forces, which includes the Army, Navy, Air Force, and U.S. Coast Guard, are eligible to be buried in a national cemetery if the member dies on active duty or was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ website, veterans that are discharged under conditions other than dishonorable may not qualify for burial in a national cemetery, depending upon a determination made by a regional VA office.
Members of reserve components, like the National Guard, or reserve officers’ training corps are also eligible to be buried in a national cemetery, if the member at the time of death, was entitled to retiree pay or would have been entitled to retiree pay, but for being under the age of 60 at the time of death.
Others eligible to receive burial in a national cemetery include commissioned officers of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, commissioned officers of the Regular or Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service and World War II U.S. Merchant Mariners.
Members of the Philippine Armed Forces are eligible if the member was a U.S. citizen or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence inside the U.S. at the time of death, and was a resident of the U.S. at the time of death. The member also must have served before July 1, 1946 for the Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines.
Spouses, parents and dependents of eligible veterans or members of the Armed Forces may also be eligible for burial at a national cemetery while ex-spouses are not eligible.
Determination of eligibility for burial is decided by the National Cemetery Scheduling Office, which can be contacted at 1-866-900-6417.
For more details on requirements and eligibilities for burial in a national cemetery visit https://www.cem.va.gov/burial_benefits /eligible.asp.