A $3.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affair’s National Cemetery Administration allowed the cemetery to purchase and install 4.090 double depth burial crypts.
“We were below standards if you compared us to the national cemeteries,” explained cemetery director Dan Kemano. “With this retrofit, we are up to the same standards that national has.”
The retrofit means that the cost of the outer burial crypts will no longer fall on the veterans or their families.
“In the past they were spending anywhere from $400 to $1200 for that concrete outer burial container,” Kemano explained.
Having the cost of their burial covered is a benefit Kemano says is often forgotten by veterans. He’s a 30-year Navy veteran and admits during the rigors of service, oftentimes remembering the exact benefits can get lost.
“Very few of the veterans remember that one of the benefits -which is a tremendous benefit- is the burial of the veteran and the spouse at no cost,” Kemano stated.
Now there is no cost for a standard burial at the Horton Cemetery for a veteran. Spouses or dependents incur a $300 administration fee.
Since the new gardens with the crypts opened in mid-December, more than 50 burials have occurred at the cemetery.
The 4,090 units are expected to last nearly a decade and the cemetery will apply for another grant to supply more before they run out.
Now the work of education is continuing – Kemano estimates 25% or more of veterans in Hampton Roads are unaware that the Horton cemetery even exists.
He wants to make sure all who qualify are aware of the option.
“This is what they earned,” Kemano said.