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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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What documents do I need to provide verification of eligibility for interment (in-ground burial of casketed or cremated remains)?
For decorated honorably discharged veterans, a copy of the last discharge document and a copy of the order awarding the decoration (if the decoration is not listed on the discharge document) is required. For former prisoners of war, a copy of the last discharge document and an official document that confirms the former POW status.
- For active duty personnel, an active duty statement is required.
- For veterans retired from active duty, no documentation is required unless your military retirement has been combined with your civil service retirement; a copy of your retirement order and last discharge document is required.
- For veterans retired from the Reserve Component, a copy of a discharge document that verifies active military service performed (other than for training).
- For those veterans who have held Executive Level I and II positions in the federal government and/or federal elective office, a copy of the last discharge document is required.
What documents do I need to provide verification of eligibility for inurnment of cremated remains in the Columbarium?
For honorably discharged veterans, a copy of the last discharge document will be required. For those who are serving on active duty, an active duty statement will be required. For those who are retired from active duty, no document will be required. If your military retirement has been combined with your civil service retirement, a discharge document will be required. For those who are retired from the Reserve Component, a copy of the last discharge document which describes the active service (other than for training) performed will be required.
What must I do to make arrangements for the interment or inurnment of myself, my spouse, or my dependent?
Arlington National Cemetery does not make prearrangements or reservations before the time of death/time of need. However, at the time of need (time of death), the surviving spouse or parent of the child should go to the local funeral home to make arrangements for any desired funeral services in your area. A funeral director should telephone Arlington National Cemetery to make burial arrangements using the toll-free Consolidated Customer Service Center (877) 907-8585. Any required documents should be provided to the funeral director. After calling and receiving a case file number, please fax or email scheduling documentation only, which is requested for establishing eligibility, using one of the contact methods below.
Please include the case number in the subject of your communications. [Example: Subject: CASE NUMBER: #####]
If I am cremated, can my next-of-kin arrange for the interment/inurnment without using the funeral home?
Yes. Your next-of-kin or personal representative can call the Consolidated Customer Service Center at the toll-free number (877) 907-8585 to receive a case number and schedule the service.
How does the casket or urn get to Arlington National Cemetery from where I live?
Generally, funeral directors arrange for the shipment of casketed remains through a commercial airline. Your local funeral director will contact a funeral home in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area to arrange for the pickup of the casket at the airport. The receiving funeral home will store the casket until the day of the scheduled service. On the day of the service, the casket will be taken by the receiving funeral home to the cemetery for the interment service. All costs associated with the shipping and storage of the remains are incurred by the next-of-kin. For active duty personnel only, costs incurred are borne by the appropriate military branch of service. For cremated remains, the urn can be hand-carried to Arlington National Cemetery or shipped to a local funeral director for delivery to Arlington.
What is the cost to the family to have a family member interred/inurned in Arlington National Cemetery?
Arlington National Cemetery does not charge for the services provided by the cemetery. However, if the next-of-kin desires a private headstone marker/monument or a vault (in lieu of a government headstone or graveliner), the family of the deceased incurs all costs associated with the private monument or vault. Arrangements for the private headstone marker/monument and/or the vault are the responsibility of the next-of-kin. There is no charge for a gravesite, for the excavation required to open the grave, for the setup of the gravesite, or for the closing of the gravesite. There is no charge for the government headstone or government graveliner.
How do I arrange for the military funeral honors, a service at the chapel, coordinate for a military chaplain, or pallbearers?
The cemetery staff will advise the next-of-kin or funeral director of the available military funeral honors and casket team (pallbearers) and will schedule them for the service. At the time of scheduling for the burial service, the cemetery staff can provide a military chaplain and schedule a service at the chapel. The next-of-kin or funeral director does not have to contact the military directly to arrange for full honors for burial services at Arlington National Cemetery. Please be aware, the most important factors impacting the scheduling of the date of service are the availability of a caisson, the chapel, and a chaplain. To schedule a service, please call Arlington National Cemetery Customer Service at 877-907-8585.
What military funeral honors are provided at Arlington National Cemetery for the interment or inurnment service?
Interment/inurnment services and military funeral honors are provided on a first-come, first-served basis. The following honors are available, but can be modified if the family does not desire part or all of the available honors:
- Enlisted Personnel: Military funeral honors will be provided by the appropriate military branch of service, to include pallbearers, firing party, and a bugler. The cemetery staff will schedule the honors and support. A military chaplain can be scheduled, when requested, or the family minister may be provided by the next-of-kin or funeral director.
- Officers (Commissioned and Warrant): In addition to the military funeral honors and support provided for enlisted personnel, the caisson, band and escort troops can be scheduled by the cemetery staff, when requested. The riderless (caparisoned) horse is used for Army and Marine Colonels and higher. For Flag Officers (Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines), the Minute Guns are provided. For Flag Officers (Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines), the Gun Salute is provided
- Aviation personnel: Each military service has specific rules and regulations regarding fly-overs at military funerals and should be addressed/requested when scheduling the service.
- Dependents with no military service: The appropriate military branch of service will provide casket team (body bearers/ pallbearers). A military chaplain will be scheduled, if requested, or the family minister may be provided by the next-of-kin or funeral director.
What is the difference between a graveliner and a vault?
A graveliner is a concrete container in which the casket is lowered. It is used by the government for grounds maintenance purposes in that it reduces the settling of the soil, which compacts significantly during the first year following a burial. A vault is a privately purchased sealed container which protects a casket from environmental decay.
Government grave liners are made of reinforced concrete and surround the casket. After the burial service, the casket is lowered into the government liner and the concrete lid is placed on top. The purpose of the government liner is to protect the grave from sinking. It is not designed to protect the casket from the elements. A government liner is provided at no cost to the family.
A burial vault is made of reinforced concrete or other materials such as steel or bronze. Burial vaults come with a variety of special linings and may be sold with a warranty. The purpose of the burial vault is to protect the casket for some period of time and prevent the grave from sinking. Burial vaults are sold by funeral homes and not provided free of charge by the cemetery. If a family elects to purchase a burial vault, then the cemetery will not provide the free government liner.
The overall purpose of both is to prevent the ground from caving in as the casket naturally deteriorates over time. The outer burial container helps to prevent the grave from sinking but neither grave liners nor burial vaults are designed to prevent the eventual decomposition of human remains, or entirely prevent water, dirt, or other debris from penetrating into a casket.
If my spouse or dependent child should predecease me, can they be buried before I am buried?
Yes. However, as the qualifying veteran, you will be required to sign a statement that certifies that you will be interred/inurned in the same gravesite/niche upon your demise/death.
If I am the qualifying veteran and my first spouse is interred/inurned in Arlington National Cemetery and I remarry, can my second spouse also be interred/inurned in the same gravesite/niche to be occupied by me?
Yes, if you are the qualifying veteran. The qualifying veteran is the person on whose military service the eligibility for the first interment/inurnment is based. If you should predecease your second spouse, your second spouse will retain eligibility for interment/inurnment-as long as the second spouse second spouse is unmarried at the time of his/her death. Columbarium and Niche Wall niches for urns are 12" X 12".
If a second inurnment is anticipated, both receptacles must fit within these dimensions therefore it is recommended that the receptacle be no greater than 9.5 inches high x 9.5 inches wide x 9.5 inches deep. This ensures that your loved one's urn will appropriately fit in niche spaces, urn liners and the caisson compartment used in services at Arlington National Cemetery. If your urn is larger than these dimensions, please notify us immediately.
Can I have a chapel service at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall?
Yes. Chapel services, if requested, can be scheduled by the cemetery staff at the time that burial arrangements are made. The chapel is scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. The chapel service is conducted prior to going to the gravesite/niche for the interment/inurnment.
Can we use our family minister for the chapel service and at the gravesite?
Yes. However, your family minister must keep the service within the scheduled time frames in order to avoid adversely affecting the start of the next chapel service. If a long chapel service is anticipated, it should be conducted in the family church or at the funeral home.
If I am cremated, can I still be buried in the ground?
Yes. If you are eligible for interment (ground burial), the cremated remains may be casketed. Ground burial can be used for both caskets and urns.
If I am cremated, what military funeral honors are provided?
There is no distinction in the military funeral honors provided for a casketed or cremated remains.
Is there a special container required for interment or inurnment or cremated remains?
Yes. The heavy plastic container provided by most crematories is acceptable for ground burial or for inurnment in the Columbarium or Wall. Cardboard containers will not be accepted for placement in a niche, but can be accepted for burial of cremated remains in the ground. Urns being placed in the Columbarium or the Niche Wall should be of a size that will fit into the dimensions of 12" X 12". Two urns can be placed in the Niche Wall or Columbarium. If a second inurnment is anticipated, both receptacles must fit within these dimensions therefore it is recommended that the receptacle be no greater than 9.5 inches high x 9.5 inches wide x 9.5 inches deep. This ensures that your loved one's urn will appropriately fit in niche spaces, urn liners and the caisson compartment used in services at Arlington National Cemetery. If your urn is larger than these dimensions, please notify us immediately.
What is needed on the day of the service?
Family members and others attending the funeral of the deceased should arrive at the cemetery in their private vehicles or in vehicles provided by the funeral home. These vehicles will be needed to go to the gravesite or the Columbarium for the services. The cemetery does not provide transportation or wheelchairs. For interment or inurnment of cremated remains, you should arrive with the urn, a death certificate, a cremation certificate, and a burial flag if military funeral honors are being provided to the veteran. For casketed remains, the funeral home will provide the hearse, the casketed remains (flag draped, if a veteran), and a transfer permit (if crossing state lines).
How long is the wait until the service is conducted?
Scheduling of services may take from several weeks to several months, depending upon volume of services, family desires, and specific military funeral honors to be rendered. In rare circumstances, scheduling may occur more quickly. It should be noted that the availability of the chapel (if requested), availability of a military chaplain (if requested), and the military funeral honors to be rendered (especially if the caisson is to be used) are the normal causes for delays in scheduling the service.
Can I provide a tip or gratuity to an Arlington National Cemetery employee?
No. Law and regulation prohibit government employees from accepting a tip or gratuity of any kind.
Can I cremate a pet and place the remains with a pet owner or spread the cremated remains over the pet owner’s grave?
No. Arlington National Cemetery cannot allow pets (cremated or otherwise) to be placed within the cemetery.
If a service member has a memorial marker in ANC, is the spouse eligible for placement at ANC and where is he or she placed?
Yes. The spouse is placed in an area of the cemetery determined by the superintendent. The memorial marker is moved to the plot and the name of the other spouse is added to the headstone.
What are the dimensions of an urn liner?
Will a photo copy of the death certificate be sufficient on the day of burial?
Yes. As long as it is readable.
What is contained in a burial packet?
A map of the grave location, permanent parking pass, general information letter and a copy of the headstone/niche cover form.
Is there a burial permit required for the state of Virginia for burial at ANC?
Does ANC supply an interpreter for people who are deaf?
Yes. The request should be made at the time of scheduling.
Where do families meet when the service originates at the Memorial Gate?
Families will meet the cemetery representative at the Memorial Gate.
Can small objects be placed in the niche along with the urn?
The person should bring the object and ask the ISB rep prior to the service about the placement of objects within the niche.
Does ANC provide photographers or videographers for funeral services?
Can a family hire a photographer or videographer to photograph or videotape a service?
Can a bus attending a service be allowed in the cemetery?
Yes. If the bus has people that are attending the service.
Who are the Arlington Ladies?
In 1948, the wife of the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, Hoyt Vandenberg, formed a group from the Officer’s Wives Club to attend Air Force funerals.
In 1972, General Creighton Abrams wife, Julia, founded the Army’s version of the group.
In 1985, the Navy also followed suit by creating a group of their own.
The Marines do not officially have a group as they send a representative of the Marine Commandant to every funeral.
Today, the Air Force, Army, Navy and Coast Guard all have Arlington Ladies who perform similar volunteer duties at Arlington National Cemetery for members of their respective services, attending services for all veterans.
If I scatter or keep some of the cremated remains for cremation/keepsake jewelry, can this person still be buried in-ground or above-ground at Arlington National Cemetery?
No. Arlington National Cemetery requires 100 percent of the decedent's remains received from the crematorium or funeral home. Families will be required to validate this fact before Arlington National Cemetery conducts the burial service.
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