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07-24-09, 07:57 AM
Local veteran cemetery an option for free burial
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July 23, 2009 - 4:48 PM

Between 20 and 25 veterans are buried at the Coastal Carolina State Veterans Cemetery a month, according to Superintendent Ronnie Taylor.

However, few of those burials are active-duty military.

“We don’t do a lot of active duty because a lot of them are taken back to their hometowns because they don’t have a family here,” Taylor said. “But the ones that we do … the family makes the arrangements through the funeral home of their choosing and the funeral home sets up a date and time with us.”

Honorably discharged veterans and their spouses could be eligible for a free burial plot, according to the North Carolina Division of Veterans Affairs. According to the Division of Veterans Affairs Web site, those eligible for burial in the North Carolina State Veterans Cemeteries, including the Coastal Carolina State Veterans Cemetery, include:
Any former member of the U.S. Armed Forces
Any veteran who is entitled to retired pay for non-regular service
Any veteran who would have been entitled for retired pay for non-regular service except they were under 60 years old
The spouse, widow or widower and minor child of the above.

The veterans must, however, be legal residents of North Carolina at the time of their death, for 10 years or when the veteran entered the Armed Forces.

A “committal ceremony” is held at the ceremony,Taylor said.

“What they have here is a substitute to the graveside service, a few words from a minister and graveside honors,” Taylor said.

In order to be buried in the veteran cemetery, proof of the veterans’ military service and North Carolina residency must be provided, according to the Web site. Documentation of marriage, birth certificate or adoption papers must be provided in order to bury a dependent.

Burial of a veteran at the cemetery is free; however, spouse and child burial costs $300, Taylor said.

“That’s the cost at the cemetery. … We provide the plot at no charge, we provide the opening and closing and provide the government furnished headstone,” he said.

For more information, contact the Coastal Carolina State Veterans Cemetery at 910-347-4550.

Contact Amanda Hickey at 910-219-8461 or ahickey@freedomenc.com. Read the Lejeune Deployed blog at http://lejeunedeployed.freedomblogging.com