When someone who served their country falls it is just as important to memorialize that service as it is the other wonderful aspects of the life they lived. Whether you have chosen interment of your fallen service member in a private cemetery or one of the many national cemeteries created for this purpose there are certain things that you should know about the standards of military grave markers in order to ensure that they are memorialized properly.
Although in some cases a government-furnished headstone will be provided, certain regulations may preclude this. In other cases, such headstones may be available to replace markers that are no longer serviceable. In general, the standard military gravestone has certain qualities for purposes of uniformity. They will be upright markers carved of granite, marble, or bronze although this may be subject to the regulations of the national cemetery. Niche markers of similar quality and uniform font are used to mark columbaria where cremated remains are inured. These standards are usually in line with what is permitted by the officials in charge of private cemeteries, but if there is any doubt check before ordering a marker from the government or a private company.
In general, placement of military markers may be restricted to a certain position of honor within a cemetery and other service members and family may not be allowed to be buried within close proximity to these plots. If this proximity is important to your family for personal or religious reasons, or if you already have a family plot, you may instead choose to personalize a civilian grave marker with a personal reference to the character of their service on the epitaph. The decision of whether to order a standard military headstone or a more personal privately designed marker is your right, but it may affect where the fallen service member is permitted to be buried.
If you cannot afford a headstone, the Department of Veterans Affairs has a program to help you through this tough time and ensure that no service member goes unremembered. A VA Form 40-1330, Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker can be filled out at the VA website and will have more information about this process and the standards for the markers. If you want any more information on a new marker or the refurbishment of an existing memorial, contact us at (703) 527-7774 for a consultation.