Ceremony at Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Amelia marks grant award to fund burial containers to veterans at no cost

David Schettler, deputy undersecretary for management from the National Cemetery Administration, presents Virginia Deparrtment of Veterans Services Commissioner Paul Galanti with a ceremonial check for $1.6 million at ceremony held at the Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Amelia Oct. 22, 2012. The grant award will be used to retrofit the cemetery with double depth, pre-installed outer burial containers. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

AMELIA, Va. — The Virginia Deparrtment of Veterans Services held a check presentation and groundbreaking ceremony at the Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Amelia Oct. 22, 2012, to mark a $1.6 million grant award to be used to retrofit the cemetery with double depth, pre-installed outer burial containers. Outer burial containers are similar to vaults and house the casket, protecting it from the elements.

David Schettler, deputy undersecretary for management from the National Cemetery Administration, presented DVS Commissioner Paul Galanti with a ceremonial check as part of the event.

“Pre-installation of outer burial containers will bring Virginia’s state cemeteries up to the standards of national veterans cemeteries, such as Quantico and Culpeper,” explained Galanti. “Federal cemeteries provide outer burial containers to veterans at no cost, and now Virginia will be able to offer veterans the same benefit,” Galanti added.

DVS Deputy Commissioner Bill Janis served as the master of ceremonies for the event which also featured remarks from Amelia County Administrator Taylor Harvey; John Harmon, commander of American Legion Post 87; State Senator Steve Martin and Delegate Thomas Wright. The Nottoway County Junior Navy ROTC Detachment provided the color guard.

Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, also took part in the ceremonial groundbreaking.

Currently, veterans may pay between $400 and $1200 for a vault or outer burial container. Virgnia’s newest state-operated veterans cemetery, the Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery opened in 2011 and is equipped with pre-installed outer burial containers. To make the three cemeteries as uniform as possible while waiting for a federal grant award, DVS began providing outer burial containers at the the Virginia Veterans Cemetery, Amelia and the Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Cemetery in Suffolk at cost, for $400. However, once outer burial containers are installed at the Amelia and Suffolk cemeteries, there will be no charge to veterans for them.

Construction to install the vaults is expected to begin in mid November, and DVS expects to begin using the pre-installed vaults by late spring or early summer 2013.

DVS operates three veterans cemeteries: the Albert G. Horton, Jr. Cemetery, located in Suffolk; the Virginia Veterans Cemetery, Amelia; and the Southwest Virginia Veterans Cemetery, Dublin. Each cemetery features gardens for full casketed and cremation burials, columbariums, memorial gardens, and scatter garden areas.

Service members who were honorably discharged qualify for burial in one of of Virginia’s veterans cemeteries. A grave site, pre-installed outer burial container, opening and closing of the grave, placement of grave marker, and perpetual care of the site are provided to the veteran at no charge. Veterans’ spouses and eligible dependent children may be interred for a small fee, currently $300.

A ceremony to celebrate an award of a $3.3M grant will take place Oct. 23 at the Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk.

For more information about DVS, visit http://www.dvs.virginia.gov.