Veterans who choose not to be buried in a national or stateVA cemetery, but still want a government-furnished grave marker, have a new option in the form of a new VA benefit.

VA announced in June that it will begin distributing medallions featuring the various military services to note the deceased's veteran status.

The bronze medallions, depicting a three-dimensional folded flag surrounded by a laurel wreath with the word "Veteran" on top and the service branch spelled out below, are available in three diameter dimensions: five inches, three inches and 1 1/2 inches.

VA says the different dimensions are designed to fit on various-sized headstones, gravemarkers, and columbarium or mausoleum niche covers.

All veterans who died on or after Nov. l, 1990, and whose grave is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker are eligible for the medallion. The veteran's next-of-kin, or those acting on the veteran's behalf can order the bronze medallion.

After accepting a claim for the medallion, VA will mail it along with a kit that allows the family or the staff of a private cemetery to adhere the device to a headstone, marker or niche cover.

Veterans or family members interested in applying for the medallion can access www.cem.va.gov/hm -hm.asp. Until a new form specifically for ordering the medallion is available,VA says applicants can use the form for ordering government headstones and markers, VA Form 40-1330.

VA created the medallion in accordance with Public Law 110-157, enacted on Dec. 26, 2007, which directed VA to "furnish, upon request, a medallion or other device of a design determined by the Secretary to signify the deceased's status as a veteran, to be attached to a headstone or marker furnished at private expense."

Eligible veterans are entitled to a traditional government-furnished headstone, marker or bronze niche marker. Or they can choose the new medallion instead. VA notes veterans can't have both.