National cemeteries do not reserve grave spaces for veterans before death with one exception: if the veteran's spouse predeceases him/her. In that case a grave may be reserved.
It is the veteran's family or legal representative's responsibility to make arrangements with the funeral home to handle the disposition of the body, whether it be by cremation or by burial. In most cases the VA does not help with funeral home costs (there are a few specific exceptions). All services and merchandise provided by the VA or National Cemetery are a benefit the veteran earned as part of his or her service to our nation and are absolutely free for the veteran and the veteran's spouse or entitled child.
Presently the Jacksonville National Cemetery allows a 30 minutes period of time for funerals to process from the cemetery office to a committal shelter and conclude all services and honors. The committal shelter is a small covered area where any ceremony and military honors will take place. Of a necessity because of the number of services scheduled, the cemetery is usually very strict about this 30 minute time allotment.
The funeral home will arrange for appropriate military honors. The veteran's form DD-214 or some other proof of military service will be required to arrange honors. Additionally, such proof will also be required to arrange for burial at a VA or National Cemetery.
There can be a waiting period of several days for desired time of burial. For that reason it is usually best to begin the process as soon as possible after the death. Your funeral director will coordinate funeral and burial times for you.
It is our sincere honor to serve veterans and their families in this capacity. Most of our funeral directors are Vietnam Veterans and are experts at making arrangements for military and veteran funerals.