Rhode Island Veterans Cemetary

Reed and Whitehouse Deliver $5 Million for Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery Enhancements

The Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Exeter, a hallowed ground honoring veterans and their families, is set to receive a significant expansion and enhancement thanks to a $5,050,000 federal grant. U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse announced today that the funding, awarded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), will develop additional infrastructure and accommodate more veterans and their dependents.

“This federal funding will help upgrade and expand these hallowed grounds,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations subcommittee overseeing veterans cemeteries funding. “I am thankful that President Biden and VA Secretary McDonough recognized the importance of this special place for Rhode Island’s veterans and their family members.”

The grant will support landscaping upgrades, including enhancements to the irrigation system, and the construction of over 2,000 columbarium niches. Columbariums are above-ground structures designed to store cremation urns and personal mementos. With the increasing popularity of cremation, these niches, each capable of holding two urns for spouses wishing to be placed together, are a timely addition. The project will develop approximately 2.11 acres of the cemetery’s 190 undeveloped acres, ensuring sufficient space for future needs.

“When a Rhode Island veteran passes away, they deserve a final resting place befitting their honorable and selfless service to the nation,” stated Senator Whitehouse. “The Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery is such a place, and this federal funding will help expand its capacity and improve the grounds for families who come to reflect.”

Originally spanning 90 acres when it opened in 1976, the cemetery now covers about 280 acres, much of which remains undeveloped. It serves as the final resting place for over 25,000 Rhode Island veterans and their eligible dependents, with an average of 1,100 interments per year. The grounds include numerous memorials dedicated to veterans of specific wars and conflicts, providing a place of reflection and honor.

Eligibility for burial at the Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery is open to any Rhode Island resident or former resident who served honorably in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard for at least two years under Title 10 of the United States Code.

Nationwide, the National Cemetery Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs operates 155 national cemeteries and 34 soldiers’ lots and monument sites, providing grants to 122 veterans’ cemeteries in 49 states. Over five million Americans, including veterans of every war and conflict, are interred in VA cemeteries across the country.

The federal grant is part of the Veterans Cemetery Grants Improvement Act, championed by Senator Reed, which increased the maximum award for state cemeteries to help cover rising costs. Reed and Whitehouse highlighted that the Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery has been placed atop the VA’s FY2024 Priority List of State and Tribal Government Construction Grant list, ensuring timely implementation of the planned enhancements.




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