There are three administrations under the Department of Veterans Affairs; the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), and the National Cemetery Administration (NCA). This post will focus on the NCA.
The National Cemetery Administration honors Veterans and their families with final resting places in national shrines. They also provide lasting tributes that commemorate their service and sacrifice to our nation.
The NCA strives to be the model of excellence for burial and memorials for our Nation’s Veterans and their families.
There are four main purposes for the NCA.
- First, to provide burial space for veterans and their eligible family members.
- Second, they maintain national burial grounds as national shrines, sacred to the honor and memory of those interred or memorialized there.
- Third, to mark veteran’s graves with a government-furnished headstone, marker, or medallion, and to provide a Presidential Memorial Certificate in recognition of their service to a grateful nation.
- Finally, to administer grants for establishing or expanding state and tribal government veterans’ memorials.
National Cemetery Administration History
On July 17, 1862, Congress enacted legislation that authorized the President to purchase “cemetery grounds” used as national burial grounds. These cemeteries were “for soldiers who shall have died in the service of the country”. That year, there were 14 cemeteries established.
By 1870, the remains of nearly 300,000 Union dead were buried in 73 national cemeteries. Most of these cemeteries were in the southeast near the battlefields and campgrounds of the Civil War.
All honorably discharged veterans became eligible for burial in 1873.
In the 1930’s new national memorial parks were established to serve veterans living in major metropolitan areas.
In 1973, Public Law 93-43 authorized the transfer of 82 national cemeteries for the Department of the Army to the Veterans Administration, which is now the Department of Veterans Affairs. Joining the 21 VA veterans’ cemeteries located at hospitals and nursing homes, the National Cemetery System comprised 103 cemeteries after the transfer.
On November 11, 1998, the President signed the Veterans Programs Enhancement Act of 1998 which changed the name of the National Cemetery System (NCS) to the National Cemetery Administration (NCA).
Today, there are 149 national cemeteries in all. The VA, through the NCA, administers 135 of them. The Army still administers Arlington and Soldiers Home National Cemeteries. The Department of the Interior maintains 14 national cemeteries.
More than 4.1 million, including veterans of every war, from the Revolutionary War to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, are honored by burial in VA’s national burial grounds. Over 20,000 acres of land from Hawaii to Maine are devoted to these cemeteries. More than 350 recipients of the Medal of Honor are buried in these cemeteries.
In September 2016, the VA opened its 135th site—the Omaha National Cemetery. Today, there are more than 22 million living veterans who have earned the honor of burial in a national cemetery. Any veteran with a discharge other than dishonorable, is eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery, along with their spouse, and dependent children. Those who die while on active duty may be eligible as well.
In addition to providing a gravesite and grave liner, the VA opens and closes the grave, provides a headstone or marker, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, a U.S. flag, and cares and regularly maintains the grave at no cost to the veterans’ family.
Veterans Cemetery Grants Program
This program was established in 1978 to complement the VA’s National Cemetery Administration. It assists states and territories in providing gravesites for veterans in the areas where VA’s national cemeteries can’t fully satisfy their burial needs. The grants can be used for establishing, expanding, or improving veterans’ cemeteries that are owned and operated by a state.
If you are a veteran now working as a federal employee and you have an injury or illness preventing you from performing your essential job duties, please contact us. You may qualify for a federal disability retirement. Contact us at 877-226-2723 or fill out this INQUIRY form. We are honored to help you in any way we can!