The Secretary of Veterans Affairs announced on 20 June 2010 that the Department of Veterans Affairs is offering bronze medallions to attach to existing, privately purchased headstones or markers, signifying a deceased's status as a Veteran. "For Veterans not buried in a national or state Veterans cemetery, or those without a government grave marker, VA is pleased to offer this option that highlights their service and sacrifices for our country," said Secretary Shinseki.
The new item can be furnished instead of a traditional government headstone or marker for Veterans whose death occurred on or after November 1, 1990, and whose grave in a private cemetery is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker. Under federal law, eligible Veterans buried in a private cemetery are entitled to either a government-furnished grave marker or the new medallion, but not both.
Veterans buried in a national or state Veterans cemetery will receive a government headstone or marker of the standard design authorized at that cemetery. The medallion is available in three sizes: 5 inches, 3 inches, and 1 1/2 inches in width. Each bronze medallion features the image of a folded burial flag adorned with laurels and is inscribed with the word "Veteran" at the top and the branch of service at the bottom. Next of kin will receive the medallion, along with a kit that will allow the family or the staff of a private cemetery to affix the medallion to a headstone, grave marker, mausoleum or columbarium niche cover.
More information about VA-furnished headstones, markers, and medallions can be found at https://www.va.gov/burials-memorials/memorial-items/headstones-markers-medallions/
VA is currently developing an application form for ordering the medallion. Until it is available, applicants may use the form for ordering government headstones and markers, VA Form 40-1330. Instructions on how to apply for a medallion are found on the Veterans Affairs National Cemetary Administration VA website.
Veterans with a discharge issued under other than dishonorable, their spouses and eligible dependent children can be buried in a VA national cemetery. Other burial benefits available for all eligible Veterans, regardless of whether they are buried in a national cemetery or a private cemetery, include a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, and a government headstone or grave marker.
The new medallions will be available only to Veterans buried in private cemeteries without a government headstone or marker. Families of eligible decedents may also order a memorial headstone or marker when remains are not available for interment.
Information on VA burial benefits can be obtained from national cemetery offices, from the Veterans Affairs National Cemetary Administration VA website or by calling VA regional offices toll-free at 1-800-827-1000.
One of the eventualities, an unpleasant one to be sure, but necessary, which must be kept in mind by the spouses and families of veterans, is the possible death of the veteran. The first thing to be done by all families is to have, within easy access, certain papers and documents. Among these are the following:
1. Family life insurance policies.
2. Birth certificates of all children.
3. The veteran's service discharge (DD-214) or equivalent war department record of separation.
4. Any VA document(s) showing the veteran's VA claim number (A VA number is assigned to every veteran as soon as he/she files for any VA benefits. After June 1974, the Social Security number is assigned as the claim number, even after his/her death.
5. Veteran's Social Security number.
6. A copy of marriage certificate(s) and any divorce decree(s) of both veteran and spouse.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced immediate actions to quickly identify and pay surviving spouses who are eligible to receive the deceased veteran’s VA compensation or pension benefit for the month of the veteran’s death.
This benefit is only payable to surviving spouses of veterans who were receiving VA compensation or pension benefits at the time of their death.
Because VA does not always know if a veteran is survived by a spouse, some surviving spouses have not received the month-of-death benefit to which they are entitled.
If you are a surviving spouse of a veteran who was receiving VA benefits at the time of death and believe you may be eligible for the month-of-death benefit, please go to www.va.gov and provide the information requested. VA will determine your eligibility.
When you reach the web page to ask your question, please select:
On the second page of the web form, please make sure to include your full name, address and contact preference (e-mail, phone number, or US Mail), and, the following information about the veteran:
The VA has also established a special Survivors’ Call Center for spouses who believe they may be entitled to this retroactive month-of-death benefit.
Surviving spouses are encouraged to contact the Survivors’ Call Center at the toll-free telephone number, 1-800-749-8387.
The Call Center is open Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm central standard time.
Call center agents will assist surviving spouses in providing VA with the information needed to determine their eligibility.