RANDOLPH, VT – The Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Randolph will expand as burial rates increase. The Cemetery is owned by the state and opened in 1993 after a group of Vermonters worked hard many years ago to get a veterans cemetery. Vermont Veterans Affairs is in charge of the cemetery.
In the grounds of Randolph center thousands of veterans lay to rest. Robert Burke is the Executive Director of Vermont Veterans Affairs. He feels having a cemetery like this in Vermont is a way to give back to those who gave so much.
“It’s another way to honor their service with a final resting place. So, it’s an expense at the end the family doesn’t have to incur,” said Burke.
Today, around 3,200 veterans and their spouses are buried at Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery with another 3,000 pre-qualified to be buried. Officials say it will keep growing.
“We have a generation of World War II veterans with the majority who have passed away and Korean war veterans,” said Burke. “Now we are into Vietnam war and Vietnam era.”
In Vermont, there are 42,000 veterans and more than 65% of them are Vietnam veterans.
With the growing numbers of burials in Vermont, Veterans Affairs was able to secure a grant from the National Cemetery Association. Burke said they realized they would start to run out of spaces around 2020. So, they knew they needed to expand. Vermont Veterans Affairs created a 100 year plan to expand. According to Burke, phase 1 is projected to end in 2024.
While Vermont has the space and resources to expand, other veteran’s cemeteries across the country aren’t so lucky.
The Arlington National Cemetery rests more than 400,000 veterans and their families. According to the Executive Director, there are less than 95,000 spaces left. Karen Durham-Aguilera is the Executive Director of the Arlington National Cemetery. She says they may have to consider changing the requirements.
“It’s a hard reality, we are focusing on sacrifice, those who gave their ultimate devotion their lives,” said Durham-Aguilera.
The Arlington National Ceremony has a very high demand and is owned by the army, whereas Vermont’s Veterans Cemetery is not.
Officials in Vermont and nationwide say they will continue to plan for the future so our service members can rest in peace.
“We want to be available for both our current veterans and that 5 year old that is going to raise his or her hand one day to serve the nation,” said Durham-Aguilera.