38.619 Requests for interment, committal services or memorial services, and funeral honors.§ 38.619 Requests for interment, committal services or memorial services, and funeral honors.
(a) Interment requests. A personal representative, as defined in § 38.600, may request interment of an eligible decedent in a national cemetery by contacting the National Cemetery Scheduling Office (NCSO) at 1-800-535-1117.
(1) Required information. VA will request the following information from the decedent's personal representative at the time of the request for interment to allow VA to schedule the interment for the decedent:
(i) Documentation of the decedent's eligibility for national cemetery interment. If needed, VA will make reasonable efforts to assist the personal representative in obtaining such documentation;
(ii) Preferred date and time for the interment;
(iii) Whether a committal service is requested (a committal service is not required);
(iv) Whether the remains are in a casket or urn. For cremated remains, the personal representative will be advised to present a certificate of cremation or other documentation sufficient to identify the decedent at the time of interment.
(v) The size of the casket or urn.
(vi) The contact information for the personal representative.
(vii) Whether a private vault will be provided to the national cemetery or a government-furnished grave liner is required.
(viii) Whether the personal representative intends to have funeral honors during the committal service, if the decedent is a veteran.
(ix) Other relevant information necessary to establish or confirm eligibility of the decedent and/or for cemetery logistics and planning.
(b) Memorial services requests. The personal representative may request a memorial service for a decedent who is eligible for interment in a VA national cemetery. Memorial services may be conducted if the decedent's cremated remains will be scattered and will not be interred, or if the remains of the eligible individual are otherwise not available for interment, or were previously interred without a committal service. The personal representative may request the memorial service by contacting the National Cemetery Scheduling Office (NCSO) at 1-800-535-1117 and providing the following required information:
(1) Documentation of the decedent's eligibility for national cemetery interment. If needed, VA will make reasonable efforts to assist the personal representative in obtaining such documentation;
(2) Preferred date and time for the memorial service;
(3) The contact information for the personal representative;
(4) Whether the personal representative intends to have funeral honors services during the memorial service, if the decedent is a veteran;
(5) Other relevant information necessary to establish or confirm eligibility of the decedent and/or for cemetery logistics and planning.
(c) Content of committal or memorial services. VA will respect and defer to the expressed wishes of the personal representative for the content and conduct of a committal or memorial service, including the display of religious or other symbols chosen by the family, the use of all appropriate public areas, and the selection of funeral honors providers, provided that the safety and security of the national cemetery and its visitors are not adversely affected.
(d) Location of services. Committal or memorial services at VA national cemeteries will be held in committal shelters located away from the gravesite to ensure accessibility and visitor safety, unless the cemetery director determines that a committal shelter is not available for logistical reasons, or the cemetery director approves a request from the personal representative for a gravesite service. A request for a gravesite service may be approved by the cemetery director if:
(1) The service is requested by the decedent's personal representative for religious reasons; and
(2) The request is made sufficiently prior to the scheduled committal service to ensure the gravesite is accessible; and
(3) The cemetery director has sufficient staffing resources for the gravesite service, and
(4) The site can be safely accessed on the day of the service.
(e) Witnessing interment without additional services. When scheduling the interment, the decedent's personal representative may request to witness the interment of the decedent's remains without additional services at the committal shelter. Approval of a request for witness-only interment is at the discretion of the cemetery director, and may be made only if:
(1) The timing of the request provides sufficient time to ensure the gravesite is accessible, and;
(2) The site can be safely accessed on the day of the interment. This determination may require limiting the number of individuals who may witness the interment and other logistics, such as distance from the gravesite, as the cemetery director finds necessary.
(f) Funeral honors - (1) List of organizations providing funeral honors. Each cemetery director will maintain a list of organizations that will, upon request, provide funeral honors at the cemetery at no cost to the family. Each list must include DoD funeral honors contacts. Non-DoD funeral honors providers who want to be included on the list must make a request to the cemetery director and meet the requirements of paragraph (f)(5) of this section.
(2) Request required. Funeral honors will be provided at a committal or memorial service for an eligible individual only if requested by the decedent's personal representative. When scheduling a committal or memorial service for a veteran or other eligible individual who served in the U.S. armed forces, the NCSO will make available to the personal representative the list of available funeral honors providers, as described in paragraph (f)(1) of this section, for the cemetery where interment or services are to be scheduled. The decedent's personal representative may choose any funeral honors provider(s) on the list provided by VA, and/or any other organization that provides funeral honors services.
(3) Agreement. Any agreement to provide funeral honors is exclusively between the organization(s) providing funeral honors and the decedent's personal representative. The composition of a funeral honors detail, as well as the specific content of the ceremony provided during a committal or memorial service is dependent on available resources of the providing organization(s). The Department of Defense (DoD) is responsible for determining eligibility for funeral honors provided by a DoD funeral honors detail. If funeral honors are provided by a combined detail that includes one or more funeral honors providers, all providers must provide services as requested by the personal representative.
(4) Requirements for all funeral honors providers. All organizations performing funeral honors at VA national cemeteries, including DoD organizations and any provider selected by the personal representative that is not on the list of providers provided by VA under paragraph (f)(1) of this section, must:
(i) Provide to the cemetery director the name and contact information of a representative for the organization who is accountable for funeral honors activities; and
(ii) Comply with VA security, safety, and law enforcement regulations under 38 CFR 1.218; and
(iii) Maintain and operate any equipment in a safe manner consistent with VA and DoD policies and regulations; and
(iv) Not solicit for or accept donations on VA property except as authorized under 38 CFR 1.218(a)(8).
(5) Additional requirements for non-DoD funeral honors providers. Non-DoD funeral honors providers, including any provider selected by the personal representative that is not on the list of providers provided by VA under paragraph (f)(1) of this section, must certify that:
(i) They will comply with the requirements in subparagraphs (f)(4) of this section;
(ii) They are conducting activities on federal property as an independent entity, not as an agent or employee of VA, unless registered as a VA volunteer;
(iii) Members of the organization who will conduct the funeral honors have completed training on funeral honors tasks and the safe use of funeral honors equipment; and
(iv) The funeral honors will be provided in accordance with the agreement in paragraph (f)(3) of this section between the personal representative and the funeral honors provider.
(g) Public areas. The cemetery director and cemetery staff will allow access to and use of appropriate public areas of the national cemetery by national cemetery visitors, as well as to families and funeral honors providers for service preparations, contemplation, prayer, mourning, or reflection, so long as the safety and security of the national cemetery and cemetery operations are not adversely affected. Appropriate public areas include, but are not limited to, committal shelters, rest areas, chapels, and benches. The cemetery director will ensure that signs adequately identify restricted or non-public areas in the national cemetery.
(h) Gifts. Nothing in this section prohibits or constrains any member of a funeral honors provider, a Veterans Service Organization, or the public from offering a gift or token to a family member of the decedent or any person at a committal or memorial service, provided that no compensation is requested, received, or expected in exchange for such gift or token. Committal or memorial service attendees may accept or decline any such gift or token, and may request that the offeror refrain from making any such offers to the service attendees.(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 2402, 2404) [84 FR 38557, Aug. 7, 2019]