On March 25, 2015, at 9 a.m., the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will hold a Public Information Briefing to outline plans for construction of a new columbaria on the grounds of the St. Albans Community Living Center, located at 179-00 Linden Boulevard and 179 Street, Jamaica, New York 11425. VA is pleased to use this event as an opportunity to describe its progress on a plan to provide above-ground cremation burial options for Veterans, their spouses and eligible dependents in New York City.
Following a 2008 study, VA’s National Cemetery Administration (NCA) began to pursue an “Urban Initiative” that would locate columbarium facilities in some of America’s most densely populated areas where existing VA national cemeteries are more than 50 miles removed from the city center hindering use by Veterans and their families.
NCA is building a new columbaria-only cemetery on the campus of the VA St. Albans Community Living Center in St. Albans, New York (Queens). Although New York City is within the service area of Calverton and Long Island National Cemeteries on Long Island, the establishment of a columbaria-only facility in the borough of Queens in the city will provide a closer burial option for Veterans and families who choose cremation and currently face long travel times to access Calverton and Long Island National Cemeteries. The site is in the New York City urban core and is convenient to Veterans and their families by public transportation. It will provide a cremation burial option to more than half a million Veterans and their eligible family members who live in the metropolitan area.
NCA, in partnership with the VA Center for Women Veterans and Women Veterans Program, support the theme for Women’s History Month 2015, “Celebrating Our Stories of Service,” recognizing the profound contributions women Veterans have made in defense of our country, and stresses the importance of sharing their stories of service, leadership, sacrifice and success, which are as old as our nation.
However great the sacrifices that were previously made, it was not until World War II that women began to earn greater military status, with the establishment of the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES), Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC)/ Women’s Army Corps (WAC), the Marine Corps Women's Reserve, the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP), and the U.S. Coast Guard Women’s Reserve (better known as the SPARS). The stories of these women are still widely shared, even today. The 1980 U.S. Census marked the first time that American women were asked if they had served in the armed forces, and an astonishing 1.2 million said "yes." Because very few of these newly identified Veterans used VA services, Congress and VA began a concerted effort to reach out to them.
NCA employs more than 150 women Veterans. In 2014, more than 2,000 women received burial benefits in a national cemetery. There are more than 45,000 women interred in NCA national cemeteries. Today, VA’s Center for Women Veterans is the lead office for the Women Veterans Program (WVP), and provides leadership support and championing of a comprehensive, collaborative cross-VA strategy for continuously improving service and benefits delivery to women Veterans.
VA offers an application form specific to the medallion. The form is labeled 40-1330M and can be downloaded from the following link: http://www.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA40-1330M.pdf.
The medallion is furnished in lieu of a traditional government headstone or grave marker to those Veterans whose death occurred on or after Nov. 1, 1990, and whose grave in a private cemetery is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker. The medallion is available in three sizes: Large (6-3/8"W x 4-3/4"H x 1/2"D), Medium (3-3/4"W x 2-7/8"H x 1/4"D) and Small (2"W x 1-1/2"H x 1/3"D). Each medallion is inscribed with the word "VETERAN" across the top and the branch of service at the bottom. Once a claim for a medallion is received and approved, VA will mail the medallion along with a kit that will allow the family or the staff of a private cemetery to affix the device to a headstone, grave marker, mausoleum or columbarium niche cover.
NCA created a webpage to enable funeral directors to quickly find the most pertinent information to help families plan burials and apply for VA memorial benefits. It provides information about eligibility, benefits and services, VA forms, and features four videos on casket and cremain services offered with and without military funeral honors. The videos are narrated in English and Spanish and show what a family can expect on the day of their loved-one's funeral at a VA national cemetery.
There are also quick links to download VA forms for ordering headstones and markers, the bronze medallion, the Presidential Memorial Certificate, and other benefits.