BURIAL IN A NATIONAL CEMETERY
Many veterans and their families choose burial in a national cemetery. We are fortunate to have two national cemeteries in Michigan. Great Lakes National Cemetery, located in Holly, Michigan, is the nearest cemetery to metro Detroit. Fort Custer National Cemetery is located between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. As with any cemetery burial or inurnment, A.J. Desmond & Sons takes care of all the arrangements.
For eligible veterans, burial benefits in a national cemetery include a gravesite in any national cemetery with available space, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a government headstone or marker, a burial flag and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Cremated remains are buried or inurned in national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors and benefits as casketed remains. Some Veterans may also be eligible for burial allowances.
Burial benefits available for spouses and dependents buried in a national cemetery include burial with the Veteran, perpetual care, and the spouse or dependents name and date of birth and death will be inscribed on the Veteran's headstone, at no cost to the family. Eligible spouses and dependents may be buried in a national cemetery, even if they predecease the Veteran.
Veterans and armed forces members who die on active duty are eligible for burial in a national cemetery with available space. 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.
Gravesites in national cemeteries cannot be reserved. Funeral directors must apply for burial at a national cemetery at the time of death. The National Cemetery System normally does not conduct burials on weekends. Please contact us for more information.
For Burial in a Private Cemetery
Some veterans and their families choose a private cemetery. Some private cemeteries have sections devoted to veterans. All cemeteries permit military honors. Burial benefits available for veterans buried in a private cemetery include a government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Cremated remains are buried or inurned in the same manner and with the same honors and benefits as casketed remains. A private cemetery may have some fees or restrictions for a government headstone or marker. Some Veterans may also be eligible for burial allowances in a private cemetery. There are not any burial benefits available to spouses and dependents buried in a private cemetery.
Preparing in Advance
Gravesites in Department of Veterans Affairs national cemeteries, which includes Great Lakes National Cemetery and Fort Custer National Cemetery, cannot be reserved in advance, only at the time of death. If an eligible spouse or dependents predecease the veteran, however, they may be buried in a national cemetery.
To be prepared, advise your family of your wishes and where your discharge papers are kept. These papers are very important in establishing your eligibility for any of the Veteran’s benefits and allowances. To ensure that everything is in order, you may wish to make pre-need arrangements with a funeral home; Suzanne Seitz Behan coordinates our pre-need programs. At the time of need, your family contacts A.J. Desmond & Sons; we will take care of everything.
HEADSTONES AND MARKERS
Veterans Administration provides headstones and markers for the unmarked graves of eligible veterans and for eligible dependents of veterans buried in national, state veteran or military cemeteries. The headstone or marker is ordered and placed through the cemetery.
Flat bronze, granite and marble or upright granite and 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 the 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 may be inscribed at VA expense are: military grade, rank or rate; war service; 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 occurs in cemetery other than a national, military post or state veterans cemetery, the marker is shipped at government expense but VA does not pay the cost of placing the headstone or marker on the grave. VA does not issue a headstone or marker for a spouse or child buried in a private cemetery. A.J Desmond & Sons will assist with this.
Please contact A.J. Desmond & Sons for information on any of the above.
Donating Burial Flags to National Cemeteries
Most of the Department of Veterans Affairs national cemeteries display an Avenue of Flags on patriotic holidays and during special events. The Avenues consist of burial flags donated by the families of deceased Veterans and provide a unique visible tribute to all of our Nation's Veterans. Both Great Lakes National Cemetery and Fort Custer National Cemetery have Avenue of Flags. A Certificate of Appreciation is presented to the donor for providing their loved ones' burial flag to a national cemetery.