As you have worked your family history research, one area that most everyone has some information is concerning those ancestors (direct lineage or extended family) who served in any of the military branches of the United States. You may have gotten copies of their service records, have photos of them in their uniform, even possibility a diary or journal while they were in the service.
If they have passed away, as a veteran, the U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs, will provide free of charge an appropriate grave headstone for that veteran. It does not matter if the person served in the Spanish-American War, World War II, Korean War, Civil War, or as many did served in the military during non-warfare periods. My father served for 30 years from 1927 to 1957, so there were a couple wars during that span.
The U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs will provide this headstone in any cemetery in the United States or in any cemetery across the globe, if there is no grave marker at all. However, this government agency will furnish a headstone or marker for graves that are marked with a private headstone or marker, for Veterans that died on or after November 1, 1990. So you might have an uncle who died in 1994 and the family did place a headstone, but a special veteran’s one can also be placed. The types of headstones available include flat markers in granite, marble, and bronze and upright headstones in granite and marble.
There are the cases when a veteran’s body was never recovered, ashes scattered or was buried at sea. In those cases special headstones and markers provided by U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs bearing the “In Memory of” inscription as their first line can be placed in a recognized cemetery.
If your ancestor already had a special veteran headstone and it now is badly deteriorated, illegible, stolen or vandalized; a new one can be placed. Also if a veteran headstone that is less than 50 years old has incorrect information on it; like the wrong death date, a new marker can be furnished. Any with mistakes that are older than 50 years will not be replaced.
So this is a wonderful opportunity for you, the researcher, along with other family members to do something very special to remember for future generations, an ancestor who served in the U. S. military. If the person already has a fine veteran’s marker, no problem, but if they have been overlooked, have an unmarked grave, you can make a difference by contacting the U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs and submitting a claim for a headstone at the grave of that relative. Details are on the department’s web site along with contact phone numbers.
Photo: A veteran’s headstone for Capt. David Groff Everhart (1890-1944) in Arlington National Cemetery.< Return To Blog