Plan ahead for burial in national cemetery
Brittany American Cemetery in St. James, Normandy, France on Tuesday, June 6. Photo by Jeff Stoffer/The American Legion

Plan ahead for burial in national cemetery

On Sept. 1, 1973, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)  became steward of the 112-year-old National Cemetery System, the forerunner of the National Cemetery Administration (NCA). Today, the NCA manages 155 national cemeteries in the United States and provides grant funding to 122 state, territory and tribal veterans cemeteries. More than 4.1 million veterans – from the Revolutionary War to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – are honored by burial in these cemeteries.

NCA has assisted millions of veterans and their families in scheduling and arranging for burial at national cemeteries. Thanks to a pre-need eligibility application, veterans and spouses no longer need to wait until the time of death to find out if they are eligible for burial in a national cemetery, or for memorial benefits such as a headstone, flat marker or bronze medallion for use in private cemeteries.

Pre-need applications require the veteran’s Social Security number, date and place of birth, military status and service history (dates, discharge character, rank – information commonly found on a DD 214 or other separation documents). If you do not have discharge documents, NCA staff will help obtain the information needed to determine eligibility.

In fiscal 2023, NCA approved 55,374 pre-need applications. There were 139,360 interments in national cemeteries, and 33,556 headstones and markers provided for burial in private cemeteries.

Applicants can apply online at, via mail or fax using the form at, or simply search “NCA Pre Need” on the internet.

If you have questions about future burial needs for yourself or a living dependent of a veteran, or need assistance submitting an application, call (800) 535-1117 and press 4. NCA’s scheduling office is open 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday (Eastern) except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Telecommunications Relay Services and teletypewriter (TTY) assistance are available at 711.

Learn more online at