You can get a government headstone or gravestone for the unmarked grave of a deceased eligible veteran from the United States Department of Veteran Affairs at no cost.
The candidates eligible for this honor are the ones who have died on active duty, or those who have been discharged, though not under dishonorable conditions.
Plus, memorial headstones and grave markers are furnished for eligible veterans whose remains are not recovered or identified, those who have been buried at sea, donated to science, or whose cremated remains have been scattered.
These veteran headstones are usually available in the form of granite, marble, and bronze flat grave markers. Moreover, you can get an upright gravestone made of marble or granite.
In case you have already purchased a headstone for the veteran then the Department of Veteran Affairs can furnish a Medallion which can be affixed on the headstone.
It is available in three sizes (5 inches, 3 inches, and 1.5 inches) and comes with the affixing adhesive, hardware and instructions.
Besides, headstones are also available for eligible veterans whose grave is already marked with a privately purchased tombstone or grave marker.
This applies to all the eligible veterans who died on or after November 1, 1990. So, you can either get a government-furnished headstone/marker to supplement the grave, or a Medallion.
If, instead of burial, you have decided to get the departed loved one cremated and place the ashes in a columbarium niche, then you may request for a bronze niche marker.
When requesting a government headstone to be placed in a private cemetery, the style of the monument should be in accordance with the cemetery rules and regulations. Thus, it must be approved by the required cemetery official.
Hence, when ordering government gravestone for a private cemetery then the decedent’s next-of-kin, a personal representative authorized by the decedent or by the next-of-kin needs to submit the VA Form 40-1330.
Claim for government medallion can be made through VA Form 40-1330M. You are required to submit a copy of the Veteran’s military discharge documents, too. You can find full details about the ordering procedure on this page.
In case the veteran is to be buried or memorialized in a national, military post/base or state Veterans cemetery then the cemetery officials are responsible for ordering the headstone or marker and setting it at no cost to the applicant.
You just need to provide the inscription information. The inscription should include the deceased’s legal name, branch of service, years of birth & death, in the same order.
Moreover, it should have, “In memory of” at the top. If space allows then further details like the veteran’s rank, month and day of birth and death, military decorations, war service, and awards, too, may be included. Additional items can also be included but at private expense.
Some state Veterans’ cemeteries, however, may charge a nominal fee for setting the stone. Similarly, though the veteran gravestone furnished by the VA is available for free and shipped at government expense still, you will have to bear the setting fees when opting for a private cemetery.
In addition, unless buried in a national, state, or military post/base cemetery, the spouses and dependents of the veteran are not eligible for Government-furnished headstones.
Not only does a government-furnished gravestone honor the deceased veteran, but it also helps ease the family’s financial burden pertaining to funeral, coffin, and headstone costs.
You can find several other details about headstones for veterans at www.cem.va.gov. The government also bears the expenses of a government-furnished headstone that has been stolen, vandalized, badly deteriorated, or if it has become illegible.
To get information on cleaning and maintenance of government-furnished grave markers, read this. If you want to purchase a veteran grave marker or memorial monument privately, then you may consider looking for headstones at monument dealers and stores like www.memorials.com, www.monuments.com, etc.