Proposed Changes to Eligibility Criteria for Burial at Arlington National Cemetery

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

What is it?

The Acting Secretary of the U.S. Army proposed changes to eligibility criteria at Arlington National Cemetery. Imperatives such as sacrifice, service, and impact on the nation's security were considered in proposing these revisions. Additionally, the proposed eligibility criteria honor commitment to military service and are equitable across branches and eras of service.

What are the current and past efforts of the Army?

The acting secretary of the Army, in consultation with the secretary of defense, promulgates the proposed revised eligibility criteria through the public federal rule-making process.

Federal rule making is a deliberative process that is expected to take a minimum of nine months before publication in the Federal Register for public comment. No changes in eligibility criteria will occur until the rule-making process is complete.

In addition to preserving 1,000 grave sites for current and future Medal of Honor recipients, the proposed revised criteria for those who honorably serve the nation are:

For below-ground interment:

  • Killed-in-action, to include repatriated remains of service members
  • Award recipients of the Silver Star and above who also served in combat
  • Recipients of the Purple Heart
  • Combat-related service deaths while conducting uniquely military activities
  • Former Prisoners of War
  • Presidents and Vice Presidents of the United States
  • Veterans with combat service who also served out of uniform as a government official and made significant contributions to the nation's security at the highest levels of public service

For above-ground inurnment:

  • World War II-era veterans, to include legislated active duty designees
  • Retirees from the armed forces who are eligible to receive retired pay but are not otherwise eligible for interment
  • Veterans who have served a minimum of two years on active duty and who have served in combat
  • Veterans without combat service, who also served out of uniform as a government official, and made significant contributions to the nation's security at the highest levels of public service

The eventual implementation of revised eligibility will not affect previously scheduled services at ANC or impact veterans' burial benefits or veteran eligibility at Department of Veterans Affairs 137 national cemeteries and 115 state veterans' cemeteries.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned?

ANC continues to pursue opportunities to expand. A planned Southern Expansion project will add additional burial space. However, expansion alone will not keep ANC open to new interments well into the future. Without changes to eligibility, the cemetery will be closed for new interments for first burials by the mid-2050s.

Why is this important to the Army?

The Army takes seriously the legislated requirement to ensure ANC remains an active burial ground well into the future for Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, and Coast Guardsmen. Their demonstrated sacrifice, service, and impact to the nation's security make it paramount to preserve space for them in these sacred grounds.

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Focus Quote for the Day

The hard reality is we are running out of space. To keep Arlington National Cemetery open and active well into the future means we have to make some tough decisions that restrict the eligibility.

- Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director, Army National Military Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery

Acting Secretary of the Army announces proposed changes to eligibility criteria for burial at Arlington

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