The National Cemetery Scheduling Office in St. Louis began accepting burial applications for deceased eligible veterans and their spouses on Sept.26 for Pikes Peak National Cemetery in Colorado Springs.
“In partnership with the VA’s National Cemetery Scheduling Office, we’re excited to start accepting burial applications and move on to the next chapter of Pikes Peak National Cemetery,” said Paul LaGrange, director of Pikes Peak National Cemetery.
Next of kin or a funeral home acting on the family’s behalf can request burial at PPNC by contacting the National Cemetery Scheduling Office in St. Louis. First, send a copy of the military discharge document/DD214 to the NCSO by fax at (866) 900-6417 or by email at NCA.Scheduling@va.gov. Next, call the NCSO toll-free at (800) 535-1117 to complete the application process. National cemetery staff in Colorado Springs cannot accept burial applications by phone or in person.
The PPNC staff will use data from the burial applications to determine the first burial candidates. The criteria used to select first burial candidates will be deceased veterans who have been waiting the longest for interment and have not received military funeral honors. Veterans from all the service branches (U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard) will be represented in the first burial service. Burials are expected to start the first week in November.
PPNC is a new 374-acre Department of Veteran Affairs national cemetery located in the southeast portion of Colorado Springs. The cemetery will serve the burial needs of more than 95,000 veterans, their spouses and eligible family members for the next 100 years. The initial phase of construction will develop approximately 65 acres and provide for approximately 13,300 gravesites, accommodating both casketed and cremated remains. As mentioned above, the first burials are expected to start the first week in November. During this time, the cemetery will accept casketed and cremated remains for in-ground burial only. When the initial phase of construction is complete in fall 2019, it will have additional burial options available to include above-ground columbarium niches.
Burial in a VA national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces and veterans who have met minimum active-duty service requirements and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. Their spouse, widow or widower, minor children and, under certain conditions, unmarried adult children with disabilities, may also be eligible for burial.
Eligible spouses and children may be buried if they predecease the veteran. Members of the reserve components of the armed forces who die while on active duty or who die while on training duty, or were eligible for retired pay, may also be eligible for burial.
The VA provides the gravesite, opening and closing of the grave, government headstone or marker, U.S. burial flag, Presidential Memorial Certificate and perpetual care of the gravesite at no cost to the family.
If you have any additional questions, contact the Pikes Peak National Cemetery staff at (719) 216-1025. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. More information about VA’s burial benefits is available online at www.cem.va.gov.
Richard Schleeter is the veterans service officer for the La Plata County Veterans Service Office. He can be reached at 759-0117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.