Trump budget could give New York veterans their own cemetery

Matt Saintsing
February 14, 2018 - 12:20 pm
cemetery

U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Joe W. McFadden

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Nestled deep in President Donald Trump’s 154-page budget proposal is funding to build a new cemetery in the city that never sleeps, New York City. If approved, the cemetery would allow at least 50,000 veterans to choose Queens as their final resting place.

The proposed site, in the St. Albans neighborhood, would be an outdoor area used to store urns of cremated remains of New York City- area veterans, and their spouses.

Some VA cemeteries have a columbarium, rooms for funeral urns to be stored, like the one built in the Long Island National Cemetery built in 2005. It had previously been at capacity.

The Queens location would be one of the first columbaria-only veteran cemeteries in the country.

The idea of a different veteran cemetery in Queens dates back to 2015, when the VA recognized the burden some families had to endure to make the trek to the Calverton and Long Island National Cemeteries.

“We continue to locate the Department’s service centers closer to where Veterans live,” said the then-National Cemetery Administration Deputy Under Secretary for Field Programs, Glenn R. Powers.

“This includes not just outpatient clinics and Vet Centers, but also cemetery facilities. We may not be able to provide every type of burial option in urban core areas, but we can improve access by making the columbarium option available to Veterans and their eligible dependents in the New York metropolitan area.”

The plan calls to carve-out pieces of walls that would have an initial capacity of 4,000 niches, with enough room for the urn of one veteran and their spouse. Over time, however, 50,000 niches would be constructed over the next 100 years, beginning in 2019.

Trump’s budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs includes nine new veteran cemeteries to open in the next two years, including three columbaria-only sites in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, as well as Queens.