Virginia Conducts First Interment for Reservist after Passage of the Burial Equity for Guards and Reserves Act
RICHMOND, VA (STL.News) The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) conducted an interment at the Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk on Monday, April 25, 2022 for CMCN David A. Corona, who was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy Reserve in 1996 after serving for eight years.
“Virginia is proud to be the first state in the nation to offer former Guardsmen, Reservists, and their family members the opportunity for interment in places of honor in perpetuity alongside their brothers and sisters in arms,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “Our former Guardsmen and Reservists stood ready to answer the call when they wore the cloth of our country, and now we can ensure they have a dignified final resting place when they answer that final call.”
This interment is different from the more than 2,500 burials of veterans and their eligible dependents each year at Virginia’s three state veterans cemeteries. It is the first interment since the signing of the Burial Equity for Guards and Reserves Act into law on March 15, 2022. Prior to this bill, his family’s request for interment at a Virginia state veterans cemetery would have been denied.
The new law authorizes state veterans cemeteries to provide an honored final resting place to former Guardsmen and Reservists who may not have previously qualified for interment at a veterans cemetery because they did not meet the minimum active duty service time. With the interment of CMCN Corona on April 25, Virginia became the first state in the Nation to bury a former reserve component service member under the new eligibility standards.
Prior to the passage of the legislation, states that had received a grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for the establishment, expansion, or operation of a state veterans cemetery were only authorized to inter eligible veterans – those who had served 24 continuous months on active duty – and their dependents. Under the Burial Equity for Guards and Reserves Act, any honorably-discharged Guardsmen or Reservist is eligible, even if they do not have the requisite active duty time.
Under its new Special Category Interment Program (SCIP), DVS will offer three interment options for former Guardsmen, Reservists, and eligible family members: in-ground casketed burial, in-ground cremated burial, and above-ground cremated burial (in a columbarium niche).
SCIP fees are $2,000 for casketed burials and $1,700 for cremated burials. These fees include the burial plot or columbarium niche, a headstone or niche cover, an outer burial receptacle for caskets, opening and closing of the grave, a place to conduct a committal service, and perpetual care.
“The National Guard is a community-based force, so providing the option for being laid to rest with honor closer to home is a fitting way to honor their service,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia. “We applaud Virginia for leading the way in turning this legislation into reality and thank the Virginia Department of Veterans Services for everything they do to support military personnel and their families across the Commonwealth.”
To learn more about the new DVS Special Category Interment Program (SCIP) for former Guardsmen, Reservists, and eligible family members, please contact DVS at 1-855-4VA-VETS (1-855-482-8387). Former Guardsmen and Reservists who were previously denied interment at a Virginian state veterans cemetery are encouraged to re-apply.
About the Virginia Department of Veterans Services
The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) is a state government agency with more than 40 locations across the Commonwealth of Virginia. DVS traces its history to 1928 and the establishment of the Virginia War Service Bureau to assist Virginia’s World War I veterans. Today, DVS assists veterans and their families in filing claims for federal veterans benefits; provides veterans and family members with linkages to services including behavioral healthcare, housing, employment, education and other programs. The agency operates long-term care facilities offering in-patient skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s/memory care, and short-term rehabilitation for veterans; and provides an honored final resting place for veterans and their families at three state veterans cemeteries. It operates the Virginia War Memorial, the Commonwealth’s tribute to Virginia’s men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice from World War II to the present.