“A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces–but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”
– President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

That’s the hope – that America honors the service of all of its veterans who lie in unmarked graves by marking those graves.

Chaplain William Peter Strickland

Chaplain Strickland lies in an unmarked grave.

This country has long honored our veterans by marking their unmarked graves. But this is the sad reality today: because of a recent and uncalled-for change in regulations by the Veterans Administration, veterans’ graves no longer are being marked.

William Peter Strickland (1809-1884) served as chaplain of the 48th New York Infantry for two years during the Civil War. Strickland, like many Northern Evangelicals, believed that serving the Union was “the most sacred duty of every liberty-loving American citizen.” He is interred in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery in an unmarked grave.

An application was made to the Veterans Administration for a headstone for him. That application was rejected because the applicant, the cemetery where he is buried, was not next-of-kin. Chaplain Strickland lies today, 150 years after his service to his country, in an unmarked grave. We know who he was. We know that he served his country. Shouldn’t his grave be marked? Shouldn’t his service to his country be honored? We think so!

Strickland gravestone spot

The yellow flag marks the spot where a Veterans Administration gravestone for Rev. William Peter Strickland would be placed, had the VA not rejected the application made on his behalf by the cemetery where he is buried.

The Problem: A year ago, the VA, in effect, shut down its program, which has been in existence for more than a century, to mark the graves of veterans whose graves were unmarked. It ended that program by redefining “applicant” for a marker so narrowly that only direct descendants, rather than historians, cemeteries, museums, veterans associations, and concerned researchers, may apply for a marker. This is wrong.

The Solution: Speak out now. Protest! Sign our petition. And spread the word. Call your members of Congress and tell them to support legislation to change this. Help us “Mark Their Graves!”

Civil War Trust
Ohio Historical Society
New York State Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee
North Shore Civil War Roundtable, Huntington, New York

The Ad Hoc Committee to Mark Their Graves:

Jeffrey I. Richman (click to email), Green-Wood Cemetery historian; trustee, North Shore Civil War Roundtable

William Finlayson, president, Civil War Round Table of New York; trustee, North Shore Civil War Roundtable

Robert MacAvoy, co-author of “Our Brothers Gone Before,” winner of the New Jersey Historical Commission’s Award of Recognition; member, New Jersey Sesquicentennial Committee

George J. Weinmann, vice president and instructor, Greenpoint Monitor Museum

Lance Ingram, president, New York State Sesquicentennial Committee; president, Friends of the New York State Military Museum.

Andrew Athanas, president, North Shore Civil War Roundtable

William Styple, author; town historian, Kearny, New Jersey; member, New Jersey Sesquicentennial Committee; member, Co. E, 15th New Jersey Infantry

Bruce L. Sirak, president, Camp Olden Civil War Round Table & Museum; member, New Jersey Sesquicentennial Committee.


* * *

Portrait of John Hann Bell

Portrait of John Hann Bell

Here lie the remains of Brevet Brigadier General Bell—in an unmarked grave.

Here lie the remains of Brevet Brigadier General John Hann Bell—in an unmarked grave.

John Hann Bell (1836-1875). A native of Michigan, during the Civil War Bell worked his way up from first lieutenant to brevet brigadier general.

He saw action during the Peninsular Campaign, the Seven Days Battles, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, where he was wounded. Transferred to the Invalid Corps in 1863, he became lieutenant colonel of the 10th Veteran Reserve Corps.

In all, he served his country for four and one-half years in uniform. His brevet cited him for “gallant and meritorious services.” His unmarked grave is in Rosedale Cemetery, Orange, New Jersey. Shouldn’t it be marked?

Louis Kentana

The flag marks Louis Kentana’s grave; he has no gravestone.

“Every statue and marker in America has a biography.”
– Leslie George Katz

Louis Kentana (1842-1927) served in the Civil War, from 1861 until 1865, as a private in the 65th and 67th New York Infantries. During his service, he was hospitalized for six months with “confirmed excitability and palpitation of the heart.”

According to his 1880 application for an invalid pension, he was wounded by a shell about four inches above the knee at the Battle of Malvern Hill, Virginia, on July 1, 1862, and was treated by the regimental surgeon. In addition, he stated that he suffered a gunshot wound in the right thumb at the Battle of The Wilderness, Virginia, in May 1864, and was confined to a hospital in Washington, D.C., for about two months. Years later, he was awarded an invalid pension. He lies in an unmarked grave. Louis Kentana served his country for four years and was wounded in battle twice. Shouldn’t he get a gravestone from the VA, whether or not he has lineal descendants?

Major James H. Remington

Major James H. Remington

Major James H. Remington of the 7th Rhode Island Infantry and Corporal Philip Tavernier of the 4th New York Infantry were wounded at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Alvah Schofield was a Navy man. Sergeant David Bell served with the 2nd U.S. Artillery. First Lieutenant James Entwhistle served with the 6th New York Infantry from 1861 to 1863. Private Wales Jennings served for a year with the 15th Connecticut Infantry.

Applications, made in June, 2012, on their behalf to mark their unmarked graves all were rejected by the Veterans Administration because the applicant was not a lineal descendant. They served their country. Shouldn’t their graves be marked? We think so.

ACT NOW – Sign the petition and spread the word!


TELL ME MORE – Click for more information about this effort.


POST YOUR COMMENTS BELOW – Share your stories of veterans who lie in unmarked graves.


Mark Their Graves

United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald:

Unfortunately, many of our veterans lie in unmarked graves.

Up until the middle of last year, the Veterans Administration was doing an excellent job of remedying this wrong—through its Headstones and Markers Program.

As a veteran yourself, you are well aware of the tremendous sacrifices made by the men and women who have served this country.


However, in mid-2012, when the Veterans Administration’s Memorial Programs Service began applying a regulation that dated from 2009, redefining “applicant” and making it necessary to locate and gain the approval of the veteran’s next of kin, this program, particularly for veterans who served generations ago, has created an impossible and unnecessary burden, in effect shutting this program down.

We protest this action and ask that you limit this new regulation—making it inapplicable to veterans who served more than 62 years ago—so that the veterans who now lie in unmarked graves can have a thankful nation mark where they lie, in tribute to their service.

James HolmesCorporal James Holmes of the 9th New York Infantry was killed in battle at Antietam, the bloodiest day in American history. Holmes was in an unmarked grave; the Veterans Administration supplied this headstone under the old rules. Today, if his final resting place was discovered, it is likely that his grave would remain unmarked.

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan . . . .”

- President Abraham Lincoln

Ron Walters, Acting Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs
Sharon Stevens, NCA Chief of Staff
Mack Henderson, Management Analyst, Operations Office, Memorial Programs Service




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133 comments on “Petition

  1. Pingback: Green-Wood Historian Fights To Honor Long-Forgotten Veterans | South Slope News

  2. Both my parents are veterans, my father Mario Louis Graglia served in the US Army Air Force, 1880th Aviation Engineers in the China/Burma/ India Theater in World War II. My mother, Mary Joephine, served with the US Navy WAVES in World War II. I myself am a Vietnam era vet and served in the “Brown Shoe” Navy from September 1969 to June 1973. The thought that their graves will not honor them is a travesty and a dishonor.

    • I live in Hawaii. For the past year a small group of Civil War buffs that I am a part of have been gathering up documentation to submit to the VA office in order get a Hawaii Civil War veteran J.R. Kealoha a VA marker. Kealoha, by virtue of his color, served in a U.S. Colored Troop. We know where is buried but he has no marker. There are other CW vets buried here that do have markers. Kealoha is the only one we know of that does not. Like everyone else across the country, we are faced with the sad fact that the VA will continue to stand its ground and not allow for such a marker because we cannot find a next of kin. It appears that the only remedy to this situation is to work with our congress people to get the regulations changed. We are pursuing this now.

      It is a little know Civil War fact that more than 100 men from Hawaii served in the war. To learn more go to the following:

  3. I think it disgraceful that the Veterans’ Administration has been forced to discontinue providing gravestones for unmarked veterans’ graves. I hope a way will be found to reinstitute the program in the very near future. I does not speak well of a nation when it refuses to honor its soldiers, past or present.

  4. It’s amazing and utterly disgusting that we, as a nation would rather allow our politicians sign off on billions of dollars on wasteful pork spending rather than honor the individuals that gave their lives so we can be free.
    This cannot be allowed to continue and must be reversed.
    It is unacceptable and there should be no tolerance in allowing our government to side-step our veterans.

  5. There are 17,000 plus unmarked Confederate graves in Oakwood Cemetery in Richmond. The Virginia Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is in a legal battle with the VA to provide the stones for these brave men. The VA contends that the 6 inch x 6 inch concrete block containing only numbers for every three graves is a sufficient marker. This is wrong–blatantly wrong!

    • I think the Oakwood cemetery may be at the heart of this issue. I believe the current chairman of the V.A. is stopping the issuance of all stones prior to 1917 in an effort to not issue stones for Oakwood, or any other Confederate soldiers. It is partisan politics and that alone that is causing the problem. We have a black Confederate buried in an unmarked grave here where I live, and we can’t get a marker for him, either.

  6. I was fortunate enough to be able to get a marker for my great grandfather who was a Confederate veteran. But even back then, the VA asked who I was and how I was related. The VA actually shipped the marker to my home in Indiana though my great grandfather is buried in Georgia. My husband and I brought the marker from Indiana to Georgia, and we laid it to honor his service to the Confederacy. I will definitely sign your petition. Unfortunately, not all descendants care about their ancestors; however, if you can trace those descendants they might be willing to fill out the form; then the VA has no recourse but to honor the request for a headstone.

  7. Southern soldiers were born in America & served in the military of the confederate states of AMERICA those who survived this war died in Ameica. So yes they are Americans. They just didn`t fight for the north.

  8. Family must know where their ancestors are buried, how can they hope to remember them without a gravestone to mark their burial place, to place flowers on or to place a flag of remembrance to their name.
    I recently foundout that l also had an ancestor that fought for a cause in the War Between The States, l have no idea where he is buried..l wish l did! He fought with the 8th.La.Inf. he will always have a great name of remembrance with me, but he could also be lying somewhere in America without a Headstone, he might also have died while a prisoner of the Yankees, no stone means l will never know!

  9. I belong to the Organization, “The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.” We are in the process of finding , recording and marking the Unmarked Graves of Civil War Veterans. It is almost impossible to find Next -of -Kin, NOK, of these Veterans, which the VA now requires you to find before you can order a Grave Stone. Lets hope the VA comes to their senses and revise this requirement so our Civil War Veterans will get their Gravesites marked.

    • wish I could help,, after years of research,, we found my gggrandfather (think enough greats) John J. Holliday,, he is buried at Camp Moore,La. My dream is to make a trip there to honor and if necessary to place a marker on his grave,, I believe he is under the initals of J J Holliday

  10. As a member of the 48th New York State Volunteers, Company F Civil War reenactment group for more than 25 years our members were unaware our Chaplain Strickland, 48th NYSV had no headstone. If there is a need for a sponsor or “next of kin” please share the information with us.

    In addition, EVERY AMERICAN soldier (Confederate soldiers included) should be granted a military headstone with no debate or reservation. Please make this happen.

  11. This is a very poor decision by the V.A. , these men and Women have served there country and should be properly Marked.. Otherwise who will remember they even existed or the sacrifice they gave. It is a Shame what we have done to MEMORIAL day in this country, but now, to take this away…. ?

  12. I want to be a part of this program to mark unmarked soldiers graves. As a descendant of Civil War Soldiers, I am trying hard to find those places where they died and locate a grave site. sometimes it is impossible, because they were probably buried in a mass grave at a battlefield. If everyone would join together to help, we could share the time that it takes to walk the grave yards around the country and contribute our time to help other families locate their long lost love ones… Sincerely, Richard Rotenberry

  13. I found out that the catholic cemetery (Calvary) back home in Lexington Kentucky that a lone confederate soldier does not have a marker. James McLaughlin. I found his name in the National Park Service and I obtained his obituary. He died in 1913 and cemetery records and obituary shows that he’s buried in Calvary. I will be buried in this cemetery eventually but I do want this honorable man a War Between The States veteran to have his rightful marker. His obituary remarks he was one of Morgan’s Men and was in the Battle of Cynthiana. He was 98 when he passed and was the State’s oldest living confederate veteran and if not the oldest citizen of Lexington in 1913.

  14. My wife and I go every year to Woodland Cemetery In Newark NJ to place flags on Civil War Veterans graves. There are 352 Civil War Veterans there with only about half having tombstones. The cemetery is a disgrace, looking more like a war zone. We go on “safe day” where the Newark police offer protection for anyone who wants to visit. Now the United States doesn’t want to honor these Veterans who sacrificed for our freedoms, while still sending troops and millions of dollars abroad! How do people think they got their freedoms? Where do they think their religious, educational and personal freedoms came from. Their 600+ cable channels, dozens of daily newspapers, center hall colonials, gas guzzling SUV’s , 6 figure salaries, etc. etc. – most Americans did not sacrifice for these freedoms. They rode the coattails of the Veterans! America should be ashamed that we can’t even stick a flag in the ground next to a marked grave ONE day a year.

  15. My Great Geandfather – Hiram Moses Kratzer, Company H, 209th PA Volunteer Infantry – had his GAR marker STOLEN a number of years ago. I have been trying to have it replaced for many years to no avail. He has a civilian headstone in a private cemetery. Every Memorial Day his grave goes undecorated by local community groups because his service is not recognized. For the past eight years, I have gone to his grve and placed a 34 star flag on his grave – and a 48 star flag on my Grandfather’s grave (a WWI vet) whose grave IS marked by a US headstone so he does receive his 50 star flag – then across the Delaware River to my Father’s and Great Uncle’s graves in Beverly National Cemetery – 48 star flags for both of them WWII and WWI vets – even though they already have their 50 star flags placed by local Boy Scouts –

    What will happen when I become unble to make my annual family treck? Who will remember? Who will care? How many more go unrecognized?

    I usually stop, on the way, at the cemetary in Norristown and place 34 star flags outside Winfield Scott Hancock’s tomb and on John Hartrnaft’s (my great Grandfather’s 8th Corps commander at Petersburg and Appomattox) family plot.

    Thank God for the Boy and Girl Scouts of America, American Legion, VFW, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War and other community groups who volunteer to honor our veterans – they have remembered in the past – may they continue with God’s blessing –

  16. I have been directly involved in marking 109 veteran’s graves in Oregon and it was that work that led to my book Hidden History of Civil War Oregon. We know of at least a half dozen unmarked Civil War veteran’s in Oregon but we have been unable to locate a next of kin. The VA says “Leave them unmarked”. One example is Otto Armack, a Confederate veteran who served in the 8th Texas Infantry. Born in Germany, he immigrated to America as a single man and never married. He has no descendants and any family that may exist would be five generations removed in Germany. Armack is buried in an unmarked grave in Burns, Oregon. We have his obituary, we have his service record, we have his burial location. There is no next of kin and never will be. The VA says “Too bad, so sad.”
    Feel free to use my name if it will help the cause. I will be posting this site on my Facebook page as well.

  17. Russell, Unfortunately the VA will not replace the GAR marker. If you search the internet for GAR Grave markers you should be able to purchase one for $50.00 or less. Be careful with ebay. If it is listed as new it is probably ok, but if it is listed as used, and looks that way it was probably stolen from a Veteran’s grave.

  18. I am past president of he Civil War Roundtable of New Hampshire. I have also written a book of local Civil War history – Newburyport and the Civil War.

    My wife and I are always interested in honoring veterans and this new rule by the VA goes against what I thought the VA was about.

  19. It is a travesty that men and women who died fighting for freedoms we take lightly lie in unmarked graves. Let us not forget them.

  20. The City of Cincinnati,OH is having the same problems for 7 United States Colored Troops buried at Wesleyan Cemetery (one has a marker, six buried without). With the help of Northside Community Council (where Wesleyan is located), 1st Distric Free and Accepted Masions, Prince Hall Lodge Masons, SUVCW William H Lytle Camp # 10, Hamilton County Recorders Office, City Managers Office, Cincinnati Park Board and Dept of Pulic Services, the City had applied twice and was rejected both times. Then the VA stated if the City “exhausted all possible research” to finding NOK they may waive the policy. The City then turned it over to the Cincinnati Hamilton County Public Library Genealogy Dept and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center for futher research. After 6 months of research the above teams could find only 2 of the Veterans NOK (which are in the process to receive markers) and the other four were found to have no direct NOK. The good news is that on May 16th 2013, Ohio Congressmen Steve Stivers,Pat Tibert and Congresswoman Joyce Beatty have proposed Legislation entitled “Honor Those Who Served Act” (H.R.2018). You can read more about the City Cincinnati/Wesleyan Cemetery VA marker news in the links below

  21. The VA has a person take every applicaton and search the find-a-grave website. If they find a marker of any kind, the VA marker is disallowed. They care not if the marker show the person’s military service.
    ~Frank Bussey ~

  22. I have been researching and applying to the VA for grave markers for all our war veteran’s buried in Cemetery Memorial Park in Ventura California. I have been frustrated as we have been denied because of the law requiring relatives to request grave markers. Our veteran’s are from the Indian War, Civil War and Spanish American War. I have researched 100’s of hours and only found 16 very distant relatives willing to send me a letter requesting a grave marker from the VA. Our cemetery’s last burial was in 1944. Much discussion has gone on regarding this historic parcel of land. The City has just completed Phase 1 of the restoration of this cemetery park. It is a memorial to the veteran’s. How frustrating not to have grave markers for the 72 war veteran’s buried here. If I can help in any way, please contact me. Thank you!

  23. This seems to be an era of bad decisions and stupidity. The VA must be taking lessons from Washington, DC. Where is the sense of history? Where is the deserved recognition due those whose self sacrifice has given value to those of us who enjoy the benefits on which America was founded?

  24. My great grand father, Harry DeVestern, bravely served as a Union soldier in the Civil War. Harry was hired as a “replacement soldier”, taking the place of a man who was drafted, but was well-off enough to avoid service. Since my great grandfather did not serve under his own name, but under the name of “Gerald Alexander”, his widow was denied any benefits or honors by the United States Government. Please help honor my great grandfather’s service and sacrifice by signing the petition. Thank you.

  25. All veterans from every war Must be properly honored for their service to our nation. It is our duty to do so as it was their duty to serve.
    Nor shall your glory be forgot
    While fame her record keeps
    Or where honor points the hallowed ground
    Where valor proudly sleeps

  26. One of the worst days of my life was the day I carried my best friend in his casket to his final resting place after he was returmed from Vietnam where he was killed. I can only imagine how helpless it must feel to know a friend or relative has died fighting for his/her country and not know where he/she has been laid to rest. Please reconsider this decision for all those who may feel helpless in this regard. Thanks for your consideration.

  27. I can’t believe that a Veteran Administration would make a decision like that. This is egregiously disrespectful to any man let alone a man who gave service to his country. Would you like that if that was your father or son? I rest my case.

  28. I belong to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. Our Camp has ,in the past, ordered and received stones for unmarked Civil War Veterans, but we are now required to have next-of-kin before we can order them. We have found that it is impossible to find Decendants of some Veterans and so as the VA rules go now we cannot mark Veterans unmarked graves. This needs to be changed now.

  29. My family has a long history of volunteering to go into the military. I was proud to trace my two great-grandfather’s to their Civil War ancestry.
    My father entered the Army during WWI at age 15 (yes, he lied about his age to do so).
    My husband served in the Army during the Vietnam era, my son-in-law was in the Marines serving in Iraq during the first Gulf War. Two grandson’s have served in the Marines and combined did three tours in Iraq. Another grandson is currently in the Navy, serving in Bahrain.
    We believe in honoring ALL veterans, living and dead. Please don’t discontinue this program which allows us to mark the graves of our deceased veterans!

  30. Last month – May – when I pilgramaged to my family’s homeland in western NY State to honor the grave sites of my ancestors at several hamlets in Wyoming County, I discovered that my forefather to that area, who migrated with the family from Connecticut, with his revolutionary war land bounty, had no marker at his grave site recognizing his valuable service to the cause of our nation’s independence. Isn’t it a shame that his life and sacrifice to our great nation lay there unrecognized. Although I personally corrected the situation with the placement of a revolutionary war service marker and flag, I urge our lawmakers and veterans administration to allow organizations such as the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War to obtain these markers without charge and continue to the job of recognizing and honoring All of our nations honorable veterans. Please reinstate the statute to allow these dedicated organizations to honor those veterans’ graves who have no markers, for the sake of honor and history in perpetuity.

    • It is a sin to not have a grave marker on the graves of EVERY veteran who has given of themselves for our country. Whether they fought for the Union or the Confederacy. For any military veteran this is the LEAST we can do for them! We must NEVER FORGET!!!!

  31. As a volunteer for, one of the requests was for a picture for the following gentleman and I discovered that there isn’t a marker for him. Currently the only people that can request one is a next-of-kin…it’s a shame that I had to put a flag there for him because no one, other than cemetery personnel, knew that he was there.
    Birth: Jun. 27, 1926, Wisconsin
    Death: Mar. 24, 1998, Boston, Massachusetts

    Dr. Romaine R.Bruns, an experimental pathologist and electron microscopist at the Massachusetts General Hospital, died 24th March, 1998, in Boston.
    Born in Sheboygan and a World War II U.S.Navy veteran,
    Dr. Bruns attended Lakeland College and earned a D.D.S. degree from Marquette University.
    He was a resident in maxillo-facial prosthetic surgery at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center of the University of Texas-Houston and an assistant professor of dentistry at the University of Texas-Houston Dental Branch. Dr.Bruns subsequently earned a Ph.D. in experimental pathology from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. After postdoctoral fellowships at Rockefeller University and the Free University of Brussels, Belgium, he was a research electron microscopist with the Developmental Biology Laboratory and the Cutaneous Biology Research Center at the Massachusetts General Hospital for 32 years.
    Dr. Bruns was well known in the scientific community for his pioneering work on the ultrastructure of collagen fibrils and their formation.
    Burial was at the Mt.Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge,MA. A memorial service was held at the Massachusetts Geneal Hospital.

    Mount Auburn Cemetery,Cambridge,Massachusetts
    Plot: 11,000 grave 25 Willow Pond Knoll Garden

  32. This decision is absurd. Who cares who requests the headstone? The point of the exercise is to HONOR those who served! In the words of the former US Secretary of State, “What difference does it make?”

    I am facing a similar dilemma with Camp Groce CSA, a Civil War POW Camp near Hempstead, Texas. From June 1863 to December 1864, 1,105 Union POWs were held there and about 220 are dead or missing. We know generally where they are buried and will soon attempt to receive national recognition. Follow Camp Groce at the above-mentioned Facebook site, and GOD BLESS ALL WHO HAVE SERVED!

  33. My great grandfather Sgt Major Fayette Auten Lacey served in 3 regiments during the Civil War, 10 K IL INF, 37 B IL INF, 151 I IL INF. He is buried in City Cemetery, Tonawanda, Erie, NY. He was also a member of GAR, W. B Scott Post 129 in Tonawanda. Either he never had a headstone or it is missing. I have just begun the process of trying to get his stone replaced by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. I have no idea if I will be successful but was told that if not the VA would help me.

    Also serving 37 B with Fayette were 3 other men who are buried in Lafayette Cemetery in Lafayette, Stark, IL (two who ended up marrying Fayette’s sisters, the other was the younger brother of one of them, who died as a result of wounds he received) One of their headstones is missing and one is broken, the other is a private family headstone. Again I was told the VA would help me get these headstones replaced. I am very upset to know this will not happen and these graves will remain unmarked. I am not in a financial position to do this myself…so these brave men and their service will remain unacknowledged.

    Also buried in the Lafayette Cemetery are at least 20 other men who served the Union during the Civil War. I do not have verification of which have headstones, but I am sure their are quite a few who do not. What a shame.

    I have gotten all 4 men in my family registered with SUVCW Grave Registration project and gotten them listed on I am going to attempt to get these other 20 men listed also.

    My grandfather served in WWI and my father in WWII. Both were provided with headstones by the VA. What a tragedy that ALL veterans are not honored in the same way.

    Please reinstate this program so ALL those who have served our great country can be honored!

  34. Just before Memorial Day each year, our scout troop places flages on the grames of veterans in several of the cementaries in our county. We wish we could do them all but time, financial constraints, and man power prohibits us from being able to do so. We are just a small group of scouts be we take pride in doing this for those of have fought to defend our freedom.

  35. .
    My Polish gg grandfather was in the Civil War serving in 2 different regiments from WI. I was able to finally get a Civil War gravestone for him, but to my present knowledge it has never been installed.
    He is buried in a cemetery in Leavenworth, KS. I have inquired about it but have not heard anything more .
    This is shameful.

    • Cheryl
      Whoever signed the VA Form 40-1330 headstone application in boxes 19-26 agreed to take delivery of the headstone and gave permission to allow it to be installed in the cemetery. If that person fails to correspond with you about setting the stone, continue to search for the reason or reasons why there is no communication. There may be a setting fee that you, the applicant, must pay to the cemetery administration to have the stone set. The V.A. will not pay for this since the grave is in a private cemetery. If you still have difficulty with correspondence find out what the next level of administration is, get a name, and contact that person. If necessary, go to the next level of administration and so on. Do not stop inquiring until the correct person has been located so that correspondence can be opened up and arrangements made to have the headstone installed. You may have to be persistant about this because, believe it or not, irresponsible people in some venues have been given jobs as sextons and administrators of cemeteries in the public and private sector and you have to deal with this until you get the desired result. Do not give up!

    • Hi Linda,

      Thank you very much for doing that. Yes, please send the petitions to me at:
      Jeff Richman
      The Green-Wood Cemetery
      500 25th Street
      Brooklyn, NY 11232

      Thanks again!


  36. The VA has set themselves up for failure towards the rememberance of veterans in the future. We honor and cherish our veterans we have alive today, and a fewer of us remember and honor those older heroes that have passed before, (WWI, Civil War, Rev War, etc). With the VA’s decision that clearly lacks a thorough thought-process, those who choose to honor those without next of kin are barred. I’m an Iraq War veteran with two combat tours. Currently I have no children, meaning I won’t have any searchable next-of-kin in the future, so 150 years from now, if I’m buried in a private cemetery and my stone breaks, or is unmarked, that’s it? Too bad? Let’s fix this mistake.

  37. There is a veterans plot at the Mount Moriah Cemetery in Philadelphia. This plot is where they buried those who died while at the Philadelphia Civil War Soldiers Home immediately after the Civil War. The cemetery is privately owned and has filed bankruptcy. The VA has declined to care for the plot even though they currently take care of a large Naval plot in the same cemetery. The PA Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion (MOLLUS) is currently mowing the site but it is getting difficult to find members who have a truck to transport mowing equipment. I did it last season and it is a 90 mile round trip.

  38. I am the Wisconsin GRO in Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. More than a few veterans in my state lie in unmarked graves, and when we catalog them, it feels good to be giving them recognition they have not received for many decades. It feels even better to successfully raise the money to install a headstone. But being told that they do not deserve a headstone unless family was found was very shocking. The VA pledged last spring to revise these tight rules; I say we need to get a DEADLINE for when this will happen; not merely a promise from the VA that it will get around to doing it at some point.

    • Tom,
      I was wondering in what part of Wisconsin you are located and if you might have any info on my 4th Great Grandfather, ALFRED SELIX, who died on 9 March 1891 in Viroqua Twp, Vernon County, Wisconsin I have been unable to locate his place of burial. I have a copy of his Civil War Pension papers from the National Archives, but it doesn’t list his place of burial.
      Alfred Selix served in Company H, 56th Ohio Infantry.
      Any help would be appreciated.
      Theresa Smith

    • Tom,
      I forgot to mention that in the Civil War papers there is an affidavit from a Rev. F. W. Straw who preached the funeral services on 10 March 1891. I haven’t been able to find out what church the Rev. was associated with on that date. I have written to the Vernon County Courthouse and checked with the historical society years ago in search of answers with no luck.
      I hope and pray you can help me locate the final resting place of my 4th great grandfather, Private Alfred Selix.
      Very kindly,

  39. I am proud to report that the Sons of Union Veteran of the Civil War, Department of the Ohio, at its 131st Annual Encampment at Columbus, Ohio, on June 8, 2013, approved the following resolution:

    THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED the Department of Ohio request the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and other concerned people to facilitate revision of 38 USC Ch. 1 Section 632 to read such as: “When no next of kin exists or may be located by means of reasonable search, members of veterans and heritage organizations, researchers, historians, geneaologists, and communtiy citizens that provide satisfactory documentation to establish a veteran’s identity, U.S. Armyed Forces, service, and burial location may apply for and receive a U.S. Government-furnished marker that does not bear an emblem of belief.”

    Signed: Frederick C. Lynch, Commander
    Attenst: Allan W. Howey, Secretary-Treasurer

  40. My 3rd Great Grandfather fought and died for the South at the Battle of Nashville. His body was never recovered and we do know that many soldiers were interred in mass graves. We are going into our 3rd year trying to get a tombstone for him next to his wife in Barbour County Alabama. Needless to say, the VA has treated his service with CSA as if it never happened. Like it or not the current regime in power will not acknowledge his service due to being politically correct and demonizing every one in the South.

  41. Recently (April 2013), I attended a Confederate Memorial Day service in Quincy, Florida in the town cemetery, to honor a number of unknown soldiers buried there, who had died in a hospital there during the War Between the States.
    The plot inside the cemetery had been set aside long ago, but there was no markers or register of who was interred there. The Finley’s Brigade Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans refurbished the site, especially the surrounding fence, and erected new gravestones where coffins had been found via ground-penetrating-radar. There were approximately three dozen veterans lying unmarked there. They had died at the hospital, but no records survive – indeed, if any were kept. The VA refused to furnish headstones for the graves of these men.
    So, the Finley’s Brigade Camp, raised money and had them made – identical to the former VA headstones (pointed top), each marked as a CSA Unknown Soldier. This is an example of a service project for which the VA should rightly have provided the headstones.
    These men were soldiers – US veterans as we now know, even though they served in the military of the CSA, and they deserved to be recognized with honor by the Administration mandated to serve Veterans. The VA, Congress, and all of us ordinary citizens, should be ashamed not to have our government provide for the final recognition of the service of these men. If the VA doesn’t do this, then why have the VA at all? It should be part of the government’s necessary obligation, and the VA’s duty, as the nation’s expression of gratitude to its deceased servicemen. This is especially true for unknowns, for whom, by definition, no descendants can come forward to claim headstones.
    That the SCV and the SUVCW, and others, do this for them; when there is no one else, is the highest form of giving honor. I’m sure all veterans organizations feel this way, no mattter what war the unknown served in.
    How we treat the Veterans of 150 years ago, will be how today’s Veterans will be treated 150 years from now. This period is a sad chapter for the VA- let it end soon, with a renewal of headstone program as it was before, as a mark of our collective gratitude for the service of all US Veterans, and especially those now lying in known but unmarked graves, or who’s final resting place may someday be discovered and identified, or who’s identity is lost to the ages. Your names may not be known, but your service should be recognized, wherever found.

  42. There are still about 900 unmarked graves of Union, Confederate, and unknown Veterans waiting to be remembered by a stone over their resting place with their name, etc. on it. Both the Federal Government’s Graves Administration and the University of Virginia are doing everything they can to block this. I have direct Ancestors buried there and “Thank God” I have already had stones placed through my UDC Chapter. This resting place does not belong to UVA nor the Government, It belongs to the People. Shame

  43. These brave and honorable men and women died for THEIR country, can we not at the very least provide them with a headstone/marker.

  44. As part of a research project to identify a murdered WWI veteran’s grave site another WWI veteran who was murdered at the same time in 1922 was identified and we located his grave in a cemetery in Chicago. It is unmarked and in contacting the VA we were told the same thing. However these two veterans were immigrants, one from Russia and one from Scotland. Attempts to find next of kin were fruitless. How do you locate a next of kin of an immigrant of 100 years ago who left no family in this country? Impossible. These men emigrated to this country and then served it in France and lie today in unmarked and forgotten graves. Shameful. Let’s get this done.

  45. My father is a WWII veteran. When he passed away and got his stone engraved we were not told about the need for it to be marked in order for him to receive honors at memorial and veterans day. We believed he was receiving these honors and only recently found out that because his stone IS NOT MARKED HE IS NOT RECEVING THESE HONORS HE IS DUE. WE are in the process of remedying this. It is not fair that only someone who is a descendant can request this. Make it be so that military organizations can request this be taken care of. With the way families move around these days, it is not always possible for family members to know about the requirements and to be at the gravesite to take care of the legal requirements to actually mark the gravesite itself. Please change the requirements to make it more flexible once again. My family is just lucky we found out about my father’s not being honored so we can get his grave taken care of – none of his descendants live where he is buried but we had a friend take flowers to his graveside at memorial day this year(2013) and learned he wasn’t being honored the way he should be so looked into why not. The why of the grave stone carving people failing to inform us was a complete failure but that’s another story.

  46. I’ve been trying to get the VA to provide a marker for my ancestor who is buried in the cemetery at Salisbury Confederate Prison. He was dumped in a trench there with other Union soldiers. I have documentation to prove he is there but they will not provide a marker for him. I’ve gone through my Congressional reps but have not gotten any satisfactory response. The VA is giving everybody the run-around.

  47. These brave and honorable men and women died for THEIR country, they should be, at the very least, be provided a headstone/marker.

  48. I am on the board of managers of Woodland Cemetery in Newark, NJ and we are facing a similar situation. We have over 350 Civil War vets buried in our grounds. I’ve located and filled out applications for about 140 who need stones. My request was denied by the DVA last year for the same reason. Hopefully this injustice will be corrected quickly.

  49. I am a Vietnam combat veteran, son of a WWII veterean, grandson of a WWI veteran and father of a Iraq War veteran. I believe this republic should honor the service of its citizens.

  50. We believe the VA acted with the sole purpose in mind being to avoid furnishing markers for the 17,000 Americans buried in Richmond, Virginia’s Oakwood Cemetery who fought for the South in the Civil War. For a department of the Federal government that claims to represent and serve the interest of U.S. Veterans, this is a disgrace. Shame on you, Steve Muro, and your fellow VA bureaucrats for denying the simple dignity of a proper headstone for these and many other American soldiers!

  51. As a retired Coastie and a Marine Viet Nam veteran I am extremely disappointed in my government for allowing this to happen. I also have a Great, Great, Great Uncle that died at Gaines Mill fighting in the 3rd PA Reserves and his body was never buried correctly. Stop this neglect and take care of the people who gave their lives for this country.

  52. Lazy or uninvolved administrators are concerned with the status of rules rather than ultimate goals and always pervert or contaminate any process under their control. The results are always disastrous, but in this case they are also insulting, demeaning, unconscionable. Our greatest heroes are being denigrated by rude office clerks.

  53. I am a lifelong English student of the Civil War. I am engaged in a project to identify the graves of veterans buried in the mainland UK, of which there are at least 1,000 Union and over 100 Confederate, and probably many, many more. Their descendants often did not know they had even served in the war until I contacted them, and as a result new people become fascinated by the subject.
    Many of the veterans are buried in unmarked paupers’ graves. In a high proportion of cases, identifying “next of kin” at this distance in time and space is very difficult – and this ridiculous rule presupposes that there ARE next of kin; is a veteran to be penalised because he had no children, perhaps because they died in childhood or his wife died early, or he was insufficiently foresighted not to get married?
    One is such Maurice Wagg, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for helping to rescue the crew of the Monitor when she sank in December 1862. He is buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave in London. With support from the cemetery and the Medal of Honor Society, we are preparing an application for a VA marker. However, under the new rules, requiring a next of kin, the project was about to come to a halt, as both his children died young, and locating a needle in a haystack was easy in comparison with trying to find any relatives. By complete chance and good luck – perhaps the “serendipity” which seems so often to follow Civil War researchers – I managed to find his brother’s great-great-grandson, and so we now have a next-of-kin letter of support.
    The problem now is that history is regarded by bureaucrats educated under the modern system as an unimportant subject, because it is seen as not creating any economic value and even “getting in the way of progress”, whereas all the evidence shows that ordinary people are passionately interested in learning about and preserving their history, and that communities and countries are better places (as well as being attractive to visitors – tourism to England is our third largest revenue earner, and most people come for our “heritage” – which our Government is shamefully running down and denigrating). Such parsimony is symptomatic of our age – and of course is not helped by the world economic crisis, where quick, if dishonourable, savings of this sort are seen as easy solutions.

  54. It is important to our future that we continue to honor those that served. It is more important that they are not forgotten, for if they are we have no future. I wonder what our ancestors that served to give us the freedoms we have today would say about this. To simply remember them by MARKING THEIR GRAVES, is this to much for a veteran to ask? I think not.

  55. The change requiring “next-of-kin” has put a stop to the marking of most of the remaining unmarked graves of Union veterans in Cochise County, Arizona. Many of these veterans died single without issue. Good luck finding a descendant when that is the case. Our country spends millions of dollars looking for and repatriating MIA’s resting in foreign soil while at the same time it now impedes the efforts of unpaid volunteers to mark the graves of veterans resting in unmarked graves in this country. “Soldier, your service will not be forgotten” has a rather hollow ring to it under this new VA regulation…

  56. My father was a WWII vet of U.S.Army Air Corp, 8th Air Force, Flight-Eng. on B-17 Bomber, crew 990, 306th B.G. Have 5 Confederate and 1 Union Civil War ancestors also. Yes , I believe all Vets should have this recognition for their patriotism paid them. Our country owns them that !

  57. I’ve recently become a member of the ‘Daughters of Civil War Veterans’ and am trying to make a difference. My concern is the level of respect our country and ancestors receive. They helped to form our country as it is today. Be proud of our country!

  58. As a US military veteran and descendant of US military veterans, the proper marking of the grave sites of US military veterans with indication of their service is the least that they nation they served can offer. As a matter of fact service in the nation’s military used to be required of all full citizens, which during the nation’s first hundred years was white males. The Second Amendment was not just a right it was a responsibility for all citizens to serve in the government’s well regulated militia–nation’s defense force. These Americans did their service while those that have not served reap the benefits of their service.

  59. What if there are no living direct descendants? What kind of a rubbish redefinement is this to the VA regulations on requesting a marker? There should be a marker for all Vets whether they served in combat or not, whether there is a family member requesting a marker or not…………they served and protected all. They should all be honored!

  60. “Poor is the nation having no heroes, shameful the one that having them forgets.”
    We (Friends of Darby Methodist Meeting Cemetery) have just finished clearing the old Mt. Zion Methodist Meeting Cemetery ,1808. and have documented 100 Civil War veterans in an acre cemetery that was abandoned for 60 years. Most of them did not have tombstones either military or family. It is true that it is difficult to find the documentation necessary to request the military tombstones. I find it hard to believe that anyone could read about the Civil War and all others that the United States has been involved in without their hearts hurting for the loss of the lives of our brave men. We have just sent the records of our Civil War Veterans to the SUCWPA to be listed on their National Grave Register. We have replaced five from Veterans Affairs. It is unfortunate that our children will not know the sacrifices made in their behalf to live free. Lindy Constance Wardell, President, Friends of Darby Methodist Meeting Cemetery

  61. My great-grand uncle, William E. Worde,n was among the first in his county to volunteer to fight for the Union cause in April 1861 (Co. F, 17th NY Infantry). He had two full years of faithful service, was wounded once, taken prisoner at 2nd Manassas and paroled, and saw action in many battles. His next of kin (a son) died shortly after he did in 1906 and no grave marker was ever erected. The Department of Veterans Affairs needs to respect his service by providing a stone for his unmarked grave.

  62. My 3rd ggg grandfather was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, my great great grandfather was a soldier in the War of 1812 and my great grandmother’s brother was one of those who died in the Andersonville prison during the Civil War. I would like to get a marker for him in the family cemetery with his parents.


  64. I started researching Union Veterans in Fresno County in July of 2008 and found six without headstones in Mountain View Cemetery. No wishing to appear greedy I submitted paperwork to the VA for two on different dates and secured these, but the change made by the VA has thwarted my effort to obtain headstones for the foud others, none of whom have living descendents. I am now “partnering” with a local monument company and a quarry in Raymond to obtain stones for these men, not the white marble that easily erodes, but hefty granite pieces. It is very sad that we have a President who doesn’t care about veteran’s affairs and allows the VA to become an agency that spends money on bureaucrats who do so little for veterans both living and dead. Maybe after the 2016 election we will have a President who takes a sincere interest in caring for veterans.

  65. It is a shame that we don’t care enough about our veterans to give them a grave marker. They have fought for our country to keep us free and this is the thanks that we give them for all they have done. What has happened to this country?

  66. I had to fight to get my birth grandfather’s grave marked since I was adopted out of the family at age 8. He served during the Korean war and died in 1983, his grave was unmarked until 2008 when I finally got approval for a bronze plaque. I had to pay $300 for the stone and $300 for a eternal maintenance fee. But his grave is finally marked.

    I want to find my Rev War Ancestor’s unmarked graves and mark them.

  67. One of the functions of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) is to locate and mark the graves of Revolutionary War veterans. While we would love to find descendants of these veterans, sometimes it is impossible. In 2005, after four years of work, our chapter was able to place a VA memorial marker for Pvt. Peter Green, an African-born former slave who earned his freedom by serving in a NY unit in the Revolutionary War. This marker, dedicated at a public ceremony, now stands in his family’s plot in the Brick Cemetery in Colrain, Massachusetts. Organizations such as the DAR need to continue this worthwhile work.

  68. I find this to be an unconscionable policy on the part of the United States’ Department of Veterans’ Affairs. These Civil War veterans risked life and limb to protect the liberties that we enjoy today — the least we can do for them is to honor their memory with a headstone and NOT block the effort with the cold, innane policy that exists today. These men and women deserve to be remembered — now and for the future posterity of our nation.

  69. I have an uncle who was a life long bachelor and a World War II Veteran. He had no children. At present there is nothing marking his grave but a funeral home marker. Does this mean that I will not be able to get a veteran marker for his grave? This is a travesty. Something needs to be done.

    • You should qualify as a next of kin. Get together with the cemetery and request a headstone. You will need your uncle’s discharge papers.

  70. Did the U.S. government ever consider that these veterans might have died with no descendants? How disrespectful to deny a veteran a headstone. What about the Confederate soldier whose sacrifice is 150 years ago?
    Mark these graves!

  71. Something that is being missed is that government markers also act as historical markers. Due to the blank they leave on the application for any additional info for the stone, this provides an opportunity to say something about that person’s military background. For example, I have the flat stone of a soldier that I will be setting soon. I did research about his service and found out that he was an honor guard at President Lincoln’s casket as he laid in state. At the bottom of the stone, the VA put (at my request) HONOR GUARD AT LINCOLN CASKET. This one sentence not only gives a highlight of his service, but makes him an educational asset as well! This rule HAS TO BE overturned!!!

  72. It is rediculous to make it so difficult to place markers on the graves of our veterans. Many direct descendants are no longer living. This law needs to be reversed!

  73. I am looking for unmarked graves of Civil War men that served in Benton ,Washington, and Madison County Arkansas as we are doing another book on these men and their wives.

  74. As the current Chaplin for Phelps Camp 66 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War – I feel no Veteran that has Fought for his Country – his Flag – and the Union
    of the United States of America – deserves to be treated this way – all responsible for disgracing a Veterans Gravesite in this manner – should be ashamed to call themselves an American. The least we can do is to – Mark Their Graves – in Honor for their Service to God and Country!

  75. I urge all concerned to write their representatives and senators urging them to support H.R. 2018. This bill was introduced by Rep. Steve Stivers (R, OH-15) on 5/16/2013 and is currently in referral (House Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs). Read the text and get status at,
    (this is a search page; select “bill number” and enter “HR 2018″)

    Watch Rep. Stivers and the VA’s Mr. Powers discuss the issue on 10/30/2013 here:
    (click on “Webcast”; discussion begins about minute 54:00. Also check out the testimonies of Panel II and the records for submission)

  76. I’m somewhat mystified at these outraged comments. As a 30-year veteran in the infantry and special forces, I agree that we as a nation should honor the memories of all who served. What puzzles me, however, is our refusal to pay the cost – of this and every other expense we incur. It helps not at all to denounce pork barrel spending. Just tell me what increase in taxes you are willing to accept and what “pork barrel” programs you want eliminated.

  77. Why were they put in “ummaked” graves, and how would I find where exactly in a cemetery my relative was buried? Example would be Grimes Cemetery in Wakulla County Florid – David D Redd, Pvt from the Seminole Indian Wars

  78. My Great Great Grand Father Isaac P Poole 2nd South Carolina rifles CSA, died at Knoxville Tennessee on Christmas Day 1863 of Typhoid Fever . His Son was only 6 years old when this took place. Isaac Poole never got to meet his Grand Daughter
    Roxie Poole, I did because she was my Grand Mother. Isaac Poole is buried in a unmarked grave in the City cemetery at Knoxville Tenn. Isaac Poole deserves a grave marker as do all American Veterans who fought for their country. it is time for the Veterans administration to do the right thing and always remember our Fathers.

    • You qualify as next of kin as his great-great grandson. Get a V.A. Form 40-1330 application. You will have to work out whatever the cemetery requires for a setting fee. The V.A. supplies headstones for Confederate soldiers, sailors, and marines. You will have to provide documentation of his service but you can check the Fold 3 website for that. You can print off a 40-1330 from the V.A. website.

  79. I am the sexton for a local cemetery. I have many, over 25 unmarked graves in my cemetery. Some the wife was marked, but not the soldier. Most are not marked, I have several unmarked soldiers.

  80. Our country shells out money to support illegal immigrants, money to help and rebuild countries who would blow us off the face of the earth if given a chance, tries to solve every other problem in the world that does not benefit our people, and can’t see fit to mark the graves of the men who fought for this country, and without their sacrifices, this country would not even exist. Beyond shameful, but in this day and time of trouncing the Constitution and the erosion of the morals on which this country was founded, it does not surprise me at all.
    Joe Scott

  81. Legislative Update: On Wednesday, March 26, 2014, beginning at 3:30 PM, the House Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs (DAMA) has scheduled a hearing on H.R. 2018, among other bills. H.R. 2018, the Honor Those Who Served Act of 2013, would correct this problem by permitting anyone to submit headstone/grave marker applications on behalf of veterans who have been dead at least 62 years. The hearing will be webcast on the subcommittee site: . Representative Steven Stivers (R, OH-15) is the bill’s sponsor and is listed as a witness on hearing panel 1. Everyone concerned with this issue should urge their representatives to support this bill.

  82. Legislative update: Yesterday’s (3/26/2014) House hearing on H. R. 2018 went predictably. All the veterans groups supported passage while the VA’s rep Thomas Murphy, Director, Compensation Service, Veterans Benefits Administration, opposed it. The Webcast link doesn’t connect; this should be corrected soon. But the Witness Testimony links work. Read the testimony of the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Stivers, here: .
    Director Murphy’s testimony is here: .
    Murphy does make one good point. H. R. 2018 as written would allow “any person” to request a headstone or marker for a Veteran who served 62 years prior to the date of the request, even if the Veteran died only recently and there is a next of kin (NOK). This is an unnecessary complication. It should read “any person may request a headstone or marker for a Veteran who DIED 62 years prior to the date of the request.” If the NOKs took no action over that period of time either they’re dead themselves or don’t care. Rep. Stivers should make this change.

    Next step is the bill’s markup. Stay tuned.

    • Predictably, the VA is interested in nothing but stalling on this issue. So, though many veterans groups support this bipartisan bill, the VA representative testified in opposition: “VA does not support H.R. 2018 because we believe the issue would be better addressed through the regulatory process.”

      Yeah, right. This is not rocket science. It could be simply corrected–and the VA has had every opportunity to do so–but, sadly, hasn’t. The poorly thought out VA regulation, limiting applicants to next of kin or someone authorized in writing by the veteran, has been in effect since 2009, and been enforced since 2012. Two years later, despite protests from veterans groups, historical societies, cemeteries and citizens, the VA just hasn’t been able to get around to doing anything to change its unduly restrictive policy. So Congressman Stivers and his colleagues want to pass legislation to get the VA back in the business that it should be in: marking the graves of veterans who sacrificed so much to serve their country, but who lie in unmarked graves. And the VA’s response–let us do it by regulation–when we get around to it–which won’t be anytime soon. Because the VA has ample time to act, and has failed to act, Congress should pass the “Honor Those Who Served Act.” Please sign our petition and contact your Congressional representatives!

    • Thank you, Richard, very much for this very valuable update. It is very helpful to know the latest news on this campaign to get the vast and lumbering VA bureaucracy to do the right thing.

  83. What is a veteran died after 1952 and is in an unmarked grave and there is no Next of Kin. How would this be handled re House Bill No. 2018? Does that veteran not deserve a headstone?

    • The problem is that Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF) are not open to the public until 62 years after the service member’s separation from the military. This is a reasonable National Archives rule that respects the privacy of veterans and is the source of the wording in H.R. 2018. The VA does have an argument that the veteran and/or the next-of-kin might still be alive for this period and their desires for a burial marker should have priority over the public’s. Of course veterans who die without any surviving family or legal representatives are still entitled to headstones or grave markers. But you can’t prove this entitlement without the military records.

  84. Follows a link to an event that was held on Veterans Day to honor patients & veterans of the former Toledo State Mental Hospital who passed away while a patient; no family claimed their remains and thus they were interred in grave in the hospital cemetery (active until 1970) and marked with only a number. “Thank you for your service” seems to roll out pretty easy from some folks, but standing and witnessing this event – seems to me that “Thank you for your service” rings a little hollow for these veterans when not only were there graves forgotten, but now that they have been found them can not be memorialized honoring them for there service. Seems like if one cares about memorializing veterans that they would find a way to sincerely put meaning, put the ‘period’ in the statement “Thank you for your service” for these, and for all, forgotten veterans in all our cemeteries.

  85. I have served the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War as a Camp Commander, Graves Registration Officer for 3 Camps, and as the Dept. of Iowa’s Graves officer, and having two ancestors that served Iowa Reg. When I started on this campaign of locating Civil War Veterans 20 some years ago, I had little trouble getting stones for veterans who were in unmarked graves. I told people and family members that the VA provided grave stones for all veterans in perpetual! At that time the VA and Federal Government provided those stones. I am sorry to say, that is no longer the case. Now we can only have family members (If we can find then!)get those stones. If we can not mark the graves of veterans. How are we to Honor them? Let us now unite and Honor not just those veterans but all veterans who served and are now serving this country!

  86. I watched the hearing from October 2013 and Mr. Powers of the VA said all the right words: “Senior Leadership”, “pouring over documents”, “changing rules”. He stated that the rules were almost ready to go and after a 60 day public comment period the new regs would be ready to go and it would be done “early next year.” When pressed by the panel about having new rules in place by 1st quarter 2014, Powers waffled but said they would “get it done.”
    It is now June 2014, no longer “early next year.” The VA did have time to prepare and testify against HR 2018 in April 2014. Where is the sense of urgency from our public servants. We need to keep the public and legislative pressure going.

  87. The recently instituted policy of denying applications for burial markers for veterans’ unmarked graves unless a living relative makes application may be pennywise, but it is certainly pound foolish! I have a Civil War relative buried in an unmarked grave at Kennesaw Mountain and a WWII relative in a properly marked grave in Florence, Italy. I myself am a proud Vietnam veteran. To say I am outraged at the VA’s transparent attempt to shave a few shekels is an understatement. This policy is an insult to those who have served their country and through no fault of their own have not had a marker placed marking their final resting place. Unless we as a country have grown so poor in spirit and threadbare in pocket that we can no longer recognize their service in what has become a traditional manner, their country owes them at least this final salute.

  88. On D Day 70-1 I received a letter from Mr. Steve L. Muro, Department of Veterans Affairs, Undersecretary for Memorial Affairs. It was in response to my letter of January 15, 2013. In fairness he apologized for the delay. Of general interest is this quote:

    “As you know, VA regulations currently restrict applications for burial headstones or markers to certain individuals. However, because VA is in the process of revising its regulations regarding who may be considered an applicant, in this instance, we will consider applications from the cemetery director at Woodlawn Park [Miami, FL] to mark the unmarked graves of eligible Veterans buried there.”

    The operative phrase here is “in this instance.” I’m writing him for clarification. Is this interim policy change just for the 1935 Labor Day hurricane victims or does it apply to all veterans buried in unmarked graves? If he responds in the next year I’ll let everyone know.

  89. I am happy to sign the petition. The fact is that most “discovery” work of the nature cited here is done by groups, committees, and institutions dedicated to document and commemorate our war dead, and not by individuals, most of whom are neither genealogically literate nor interested in their ancestors. I’m sorry to see the Veterans Administration displaying its own genealogical ignorance in this new policy.

  90. Still waiting for a response from Undersecretary Muro and the promised rule change on applications for headstones and grave markers. However, the VA has opened for comment a proposed rule change on a related issue, reimbursement for privately purchased caskets and urns; see,!documentDetail;D=VA-2014-NCA-0012-0001

    The comments period on this ends August 1, 2014. I’ve posted a couple. The one from John Fitch of the National Funeral Directors Association is worth reading; see,!documentDetail;D=VA-2014-NCA-0012-0015 (click on the pdf link)

    Fitch makes the point that uncooperative next-of-kin are often the problem and that the VA’s proposal that reimbursement would only apply when the VA cannot identify a NOK is unreasonable and unfair.

    Also, my contact on Rep. Runyan’s staff says that the markup on H. R. 2018 has not been scheduled. Getting close to the end of the Congressional session.

    • Figures.

      The Acting Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs is Ronald E. Walters. He was previously Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs. Hope he answers Muro’s mail.

  91. In October 2013, the V.A. stated that it would do away with the next-of-kin headstone application signature requirement for unmarked graves. It is now September 6, 2014 and nothing has been done. Why does this not surprise me?

  92. The VA has released its proposed rule change,!documentDetail;D=VA-2014-VACO-0020-0001
    The comments period ends on December 1, 2014. This is everyone’s chance to weigh in.

    The proposal improves some things but contains a major flaw: it would restrict any person from applying unless “for graves of veterans whose service ended prior to April 6, 1917, or on whose service prior to April 6, 1917, the eligibility of another individual for memorialization is based.” That is, any veteran who served in the last 97 years will still not receive a marker or memorial unless a family member or a personal representative applies. Notice that it sets a specific date, US entry into WWI. Both the House and Senate bills (H. R. 2018 and S. 2047) set time limits for this family-only policy, 62 and 75 years, respectively, from date of service. These are reasonable restrictions. Under the VA proposal there is no expiration, ever, for veterans of WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan and whatever may follow. This is unacceptable. If a family member hasn’t acted after 75 years he either doesn’t exist or doesn’t care. I urge everyone who does care to post comments to the regulations. gov site.

      • Here’s what I posted to the site:

        After further study of this proposal I am struck by how naïve or cynical it is. In either case the consequence is to decrease the number of applications for burial benefits. 38 U.S. Code § 2306 states that “(a) The Secretary shall furnish, when requested, appropriate Government headstones or markers at the expense of the United States for the unmarked graves” of eligible veterans, and in “(b) (1) The Secretary shall furnish, when requested, an appropriate memorial headstone or marker for the purpose of commemorating an eligible individual whose remains are unavailable.” Notice that the U.S. Code says “when requested.” It does not restrict in any way who may make the request. The restrictions are the VA Secretary’s own invention. It might well be asked why the VA must be requested to provide burial benefits; it should know who the veterans are from service records and when they die from local death certificates or military casualty lists. There is no legal or technical reason why it cannot act on its own. Historically, however, it has made little effort to do so. It prefers to rely on third parties to bring deaths of eligible veterans to its attention. The proposal restricts who these parties are and thereby reduces the number of applications. The VA’s reliance on action by the next-of-kin and now “family members” ensures that many veterans will never receive their statutory entitlement. It is comforting to believe that every veteran is surrounded by loving family members at the time of his or her death and that they are committed to commemorating his or her military service. It is reasonable to allow family members a period of time to apply for their veteran’s burial benefits. But the proposal allows 97 years for pre-WWI veterans, and forever for WWI and all subsequent veterans. And if the request is for a memorial only a family member may ever apply.

        Let’s take just one example of how this works in practice. In September 8, 1935 the VA buried 81 WWI veterans at Woodlawn Park Cemetery, Miami, Florida, victims of the Labor Day hurricane. The VA had their names, fingerprints and service records, officiated at their burial, and possessed recent next-of-kin information. It attempted to notify the families. To its credit the VA was diligent; in some cases it searched into the 1940’s. Additionally, news of the veterans’ deaths and burials was publicized nationally. In the 79 years since exactly 7 families responded. Two arranged reburials elsewhere (one at Arlington National Cemetery) and five placed grave markers. That’s an 8.6% success rate, in a best case situation. Put another way it reduced the VA’s work load processing applications by 91.4% in this one instance. The remaining 74 known WWI veterans at Woodlawn are still in unmarked graves. The proposal would keep it this way.

        The VA’s rationale for its rule on applications for memorials is frankly, bizarre. The rule states, “An applicant for a memorial headstone or marker to commemorate an eligible individual must be a member of the decedent’s family ….” This is because a memorial “…is a commemoration of an individual, not the service of the individual. The nation honors the service of veterans in many ways; the memorial headstone or marker allows families to honor their loved one individually.” Limiting a memorial to cemeteries make it a more public gesture, not less. If a veteran’s military service is not commemorated by a memorial why is the Government paying for it? How, other than with a grave marker or a memorial does the nation honor a veteran’s service? The U. S. Code makes no such distinction; a memorial is what is provided when no physical remains are available.

        Many veterans die unmarried, childless, without any living parent or sibling. Many others have family relations that simply do not care or are incapable of acting. To expect that one day distant relatives may get around to doing something, assuming they even exist, can only be a cynical attempt to reduce work load and increase production rates for the sole benefit of incompetent managers. The VA has seen too much of this malfeasance. If all veterans or ever to receive their statutory entitlement to burial benefits the role of patriotic third parties must be expanded. This proposal would never have been made without criticism from members of Congress outraged by the 2009 rule change. For years dedicated individuals had worked without pay to provide forgotten and unrelated veterans their final honors, while the VA did nothing. In 2009 they were dismissed without a thought. This proposal not only fails to satisfy these critics but imposes new onerous restrictions. The VA should stop its endless equivocating and accept the evidently unwelcome prospect that it will receive more applications. It should simply adopt the provisions of either H.R. 2018 or S. 2700, or split the difference.

  93. At the beginning of 2015 the Veterans Administration agreed and promised to revise and reverse the next of kin signature requirement on 40-1330 headstone applications for unmarked graves of veterans. As of this date, the V.A. has not made good on its promise. Why does not this surprise me? And so it goes.

  94. On October 22, 2015, the Interim Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs of the Department of Veterans Affairs stated that the final change in the regulation concerning who can apply for a headstone on an unmarked veteran’s grave would be issued by the end of the year. According to the 2015 calendar this should happen between tomorrow, Monday, December 28, and Thursday, December 31. The wait is on.

  95. The final rule has been published in the Federal Register, effective April 1, 2016. You can read it here at:!documentDetail;D=VA-2014-VACO-0020-0390

    Very little has changed since the proposal on October 1, 2014. The two worst features are still there, the fixed date of April 6, 1917, and the family only rule for memorial markers. It should satisfy the Civil War community as a veteran’s service prior to April 6, 1917 will permit any one to apply on the veteran’s behalf. But if there is no grave the veteran will remain forgotten. For veteran’s who served after that date you must be a family member or fit in one of the categories of strictly defined “personal representatives”. Good luck trying to find anyone who cares; if they haven’t applied already they either don’t exist or don’t care.

    Time for another petition.

    • To all concerned about the April 6, 1917 cut-off date as described in the above remarks, please contact the V.A. and ask why that date was arbitrarily chosen. Please submit the answers which you receive from the V.A. on this web site. Indeed, it appears that additional action is needed to once again show the V.A. the errors of its unthinking, bureaucratic ways.

      • William,

        Here’s the complete quote from the Proposed Rule AO95 Supplementary Information (!documentDetail;D=VA-2014-VACO-0020-0001 ) :

        “We chose to use April 6, 1917, because it is the date on which the United States entered World War I. We are aware that many individuals are interested in researching genealogy, either for themselves or others, or have broad interest in researching military history, including the burial of veterans. We know that many individuals have taken up the task of identifying burial places of veterans to obtain for them a lasting memorial to their service. We applaud the efforts of these individuals and seek to recognize those efforts by allowing them to make an application if they identify an unmarked grave of an eligible individual. We believe that if the grave belongs to a veteran who served during World War I or later, it is more likely that a living family member (as defined in proposed paragraph (a)(1)) could be found. To ensure that family wishes are respected, we believe that an unrelated individual who identifies an unmarked grave of an eligible veteran who served during or after World War I should attempt to identify and contact family rather than making the application for a burial headstone or marker directly to VA.”

        So the VA applauds your efforts but doesn’t consider you responsible enough to apply for benefits on behalf of “recent” veterans. Better that you search for a member of the family that ignored the veteran’s death for the last century and try to convince him or her to sign a government form making them legally responsible for placement of the marker, a service that the cemetery may charge $200-300 for. (Note that April 6, 1917 is a fixed date; we’ll soon be dealing with graves unmarked for more than a century). Besides it’s easy to find these people; so easy that the VA itself won’t do it.

        Yesterday I spoke with my congressman on this issue at a town hall meeting. I asked him to speak with the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs about inviting VA Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Ronald E.Walters to a hearing where he could justify his unnecessary and arbitrary restrictions on applicants. Perhaps if enough people did this something could be done.

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