A Guide to Burial at Arlington National Cemetery
Most Frequently Asked Questions about Arlington National Cemetery Interments
Question: What documents do I need to provide verification of eligibility for inurnment of ashes in the Columbarium?
Answer: 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 unless your military retirement has been combined with your civil service retirement-a discharge document will be required. For those who are retired from the Reserves, a copy of the last discharge document which describes the active service (other than for training) performed will be required.
Question: What documents do I need to provide verification of eligibility for interment (ground burial)?
Answer: 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 Reserves, 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.
Question: What must I do to make arrangements for the interment or inurnment of myself, my spouse, or my dependent?
Answer: We do not make prearrangements. However, upon the first demise 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. While there, you can have the funeral director telephone the Interment Services Branch at Arlington National Cemetery to make burial arrangements. The telephone number is (703) 607-8585. Any required documents (see preceding paragraphs) should be provided to the funeral director to fax to the cemetery staff. The fax number is (703) 607-8583.
Question: How does the casket or urn get to Arlington National Cemetery from where I live?
Answer: 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, DC 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. The casket will then be taken to the cemetery for the interment service by the receiving funeral home. 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 or shipped to a local funeral director for delivery to Arlington on the day of the service or up to three working days prior to the service.
Question: What is the cost to the family to have a family member interred in Arlington National Cemetery?
Answer: There is no charge for the services provided by the cemetery. However if the next-of-kin desires a vault in lieu of a government graveliner, the family of the deceased incurs the costs associated with the vault. Arrangements for the vault are the responsibility of the next-of-kin. There is no charge for a grave, for the digging of the grave, for the setup of the gravesite, or for the closing of the grave. There is no charge for the government headstone or graveliner.
Question: How do I arrange for the military honors, the chapel, a chaplain, or pall bearers?
Answer: The cemetery staff will advise the next-of-kin or funeral director of the available military honors and body bearers (pall bearers) and will schedule them for the service. When requested, the cemetery staff will provide a military chaplain and will schedule the chapel. The next-of-kin or funeral director are not required to make these arrangements at Arlington.
Question: What honors are provided at Arlington National Cemetery for the interment or inurnment service?
Answer: Interment/inurnment services and military honors are provided on a first-come, first-served basis. In brief, the following is available but can be modified if the family does not desire part or all of the honors:
Dependents with no military service - The appropriate military branch of service will provide body (pall) bearers. A military chaplain will be scheduled, if requested, or the family minister may be provided by the next-of-kin or funeral director.
Enlisted Personnel - Standard graveside honors will be provided by the appropriate military branch of service. The honors and support will include body bearers (pall bearers), firing party, and a bugler. The cemetery staff will schedule the honors and support. A military chaplain will 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 standard graveside honors and support provided for enlisted personnel, the caisson, band, and escort troops will be scheduled by the cemetery staff, when requested. For Army and Marine 0-6 and higher, the riderless horse is used. 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.
Question: What is a graveliner?
Answer: 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 provides for less sinkage of the soil which compacts significantly during the first year after the burial. The graveliner has two holes in the bottom which are approximately the size of a half dollar.
Question: If my spouse or dependent child should predecease me, can they be buried before I am buried?
Answer: Yes. However, you as the qualifying veteran will be required to sign a statement that you will be interred/inurned in the same grave/niche upon your demise.
Question: If my first spouse is interred/inurned in Arlington National Cemetery and I remarry, can my second spouse also be interred/inurned in the same grave/niche to be occupied by me?
Answer: 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 remains unmarried.
Question: Can I have a chapel service at Fort Myer?
Answer: Yes. Chapel services, if requested, will be scheduled by the cemetery staff at the time the burial arrangements are completed. The chapel is scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. The chapel service is conducted prior to going to the grave/niche for the interment/inurnment.
Question: Can we use our family minister for the chapel service and at the gravesite?
Answer: Yes. However, your family minister must keep the service with 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.
Question: If I am cremated, can I still be buried in the ground?
Answer: Yes. If you are eligible for interment (ground burial), the remains may be casketed or cremated.
Question: If I am cremated, what military honors are provided.
Answer: There is no distinction in the military honors provided for a casketed or a cremated remains.
Question: If I am cremated, can my next-of-kin arrange for the interment/inurnment without using the funeral home?
Answer: Yes. Your next-of-kin or personal representative can telephone the Interment Services Office directly on telephone number (703) 607-8585 for scheduling the service.
Question: Is there a special container required for interment or inurnment or a cremated remains?
Answer: No. The heavy plastic container provided by most crematories is acceptable for ground burial or for inurnment in the Columbarium. Urns being placed in the Columbarium should be of a size that will fit into the dimensions of 11" wide, 14" high, and 19" deep.
Question: What is needed on the day of the service?
Answer: Family and friends 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. For interment or inurnment of cremated remains, you should arrive with the urn, a cremation certificate (or death certificate), and a burial flag if military 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).
Family and friends must provide their own transportation for funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery. Family and friends will be required to drive from the administration building or chapel to the gravesite.
Question: How long is the wait until the service is conducted?
Answer: Approximately two weeks for inurnment in the Columbarium. For interment in the ground, an average of 5 to 7 workdays (Monday thru Friday, except federal holidays) should be anticipated. It should be noted that the chapel and military honors to be provided generally cause the greater delay in scheduling the service for interments.
For more Arlington National Cemetery funeral and burial information please visit http://www.arlingtoncemetery.org/funeral_information/index.html