According to a recent article by Veteran’s advocate Gary Alexander in the Gainsville (TX) Daily Register honorably discharged veterans can now apply for burial in national cemeteries pre-need. Until recently, veterans, and their families, had to wait until need (at the time of a death) to apply for burial.
The Veteran’s Administration press release states, ” Interested individuals may submit VA Form 40-10007, Application for Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility for Burial in VA National Cemetery”. The VA will review eligibility and provide written notice of the determination of eligibility. The VA will also save the documentation in electronic format to use at the time of need.
The eligibility determination does not allow a veteran to pick a site specific spot or reserve space – it just gives the veteran a determination that they are eligible for burial in the cemetery that they choose. The concept does not work for Arlington National Cemetery because it is not a VA cemetery but is a cemetery under the control of the Department of the Army.
Funeral Director Daily take: This is a much needed change and will result in less stress on the families of the veterans who take advantage of this procedure. The VA has always been good to us and worked real hard to determine at-need eligibility during my tenure as a funeral director. However, we were under the premise that they could only work as fast as the deceased’s family could get us the information for eligibility determination – like a DD 214. Many times it was difficult for the family to look for the DD 214 and other documents as friends were stopping by and funeral arrangements were in the making.
My suggestion to any pre-arranger would be to get this done at the time of the pre-arrangement conference. Or, even better yet, how about having an “Open House” for veterans and walk them through the details of this as a little program. Get them all to send in their eligibility request at that time — even if they are undecided – they will know if they qualify. You never know, you might make a friend who will end up being a client someday.