Last updated 7/8/2021 at 8:50pm | View PDF
Are you aware that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers burial benefits? One of these benefits is burial in a National Cemetery. National Cemetery burials include (at no cost to the family) a gravesite in any of the 155 national cemeteries that has space, opening and closing the grave, perpetual care, a government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate.
The San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery in Gustine and the Bakersfield National Cemetery outside of Bakersfield are the two closest national cemeteries to Tulare County. Cremated and casketed remains are either buried or inurned in the same manner and with the same honors.
A veteran's spouse or dependent can also obtain burial benefits at no cost, which includes eventual burial beside the veteran in a national cemetery and perpetual care. The veteran's headstone will include the spouse or dependent's name and dates of birth and death, even if he or she dies before the veteran.
If a veteran prefers a private cemetery burial, benefits include a government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and the Presidential Memorial Certificate, also at no cost. Some veterans may be eligible for a burial allowance, regardless of type of burial.
Specific National Cemetery gravesites cannot be reserved in advance; however, a veteran may complete a VA Form 40-10007 Pre-Need Determination Request. This form will not guarantee you will be buried in a specific national cemetery, but it will assist the VA in fulfilling your final wishes.
Veterans should advise their family members of their burial wishes, as well as where to find their separation papers (provided at separation from military service), because they establish the veteran's benefit eligibility. If you need copies of these papers, your local Veterans Services Office can help you apply for them. When the time comes, your family can easily seek assistance from a funeral home or cremation center.
If you have completed a Pre-Needs Request (this already determines your eligibility), you will have to make a call to 1-800-535-1117 to request a burial. If not, then the family must gather the documentation required to establish eligibility and fax it to 1-866-900-6417 and then make a call to 1-800-535-1117 to confirm the burial application. The VA does not make funeral arrangements or perform cremations; the family must make those arrangements.
The VA does not control burials at either Arlington National Cemetery or The United States Soldiers and Airmen's Home National Cemetery; these cemeteries are under the control of the Department of the Army, which establishes eligibility. You will need to call 1-877-907-8585 to inquire about burial at either of these cemeteries.
Ken Cruickshank, the Veterans Services Officer for Tulare County, is a retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer. Contact him at the Veterans Services Office at 3348 W. Mineral King Ave., Visalia; by phone at (559) 713-2880; or by email at KCruicks@tularehhsa.org.