“With the opening of this national shrine, many thousands of Louisiana Veterans and their families will continue to have a no-cost burial option available nearby, in a setting that is worthy of their service,” said Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Steve L. Muro. “Providing lasting tributes to their sacrifices is one of VA’s most honorable missions, and one we are proud to fulfill.”
Louisiana National Cemetery is situated on 103.8 acres of land. Construction includes gravesite development in two phases, providing a full range of burial alternatives to approximately 293,000 Veterans and eligible family members in the East Baton Rouge Parish and the surrounding area.
The now completed first phase of construction developed approximately 17 acres with 2,500 in-ground pre-placed crypts, 1,128 traditional gravesites, an entrance feature, roadway, utilities and necessary infrastructure.
The next phase will cover approximately 12 acres and will include a maintenance complex and 1,130 in-ground cremains sites.
The 19.9-acre Port Hudson National Cemetery, located 1½ miles away, closed to first interment casketed burials in October 2012, although it still provides casketed interments for those with family members already buried there. Space for cremated remains is estimated to be depleted in 2015. More than 14,000 military service members, Veterans and family members are interred there.
Rex Kern is the director of the new cemetery. He has been and will remain the director of Port Hudson National Cemetery, a position he has held since 2009.
Kern is responsible for all burial, maintenance and administrative operations at the facility as well as at Baton Rouge, Alexandria and Natchez National Cemeteries.
In February 2009, he graduated from the comprehensive year-long Cemetery Director Intern Program at the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) National Training Center in St. Louis.
Veterans with a discharge issued under conditions other than dishonorable, their spouses and eligible dependent children can be buried in a VA national cemetery. Also eligible are military personnel who die on active duty, their spouses and eligible dependents.
Other burial benefits available for all eligible Veterans, regardless of whether they are buried in a national cemetery or a private cemetery, include a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate and a government headstone or marker.
Families of eligible decedents may also order a memorial headstone or marker when remains are not available for interment.
In the midst of the largest cemetery expansion since the Civil War, VA operates 131 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico and 33 soldiers' lots and monument sites. More than 3.7 million Americans, including Veterans of every war and conflict - from the Revolutionary War to the Global War on Terror - are buried in VA’s national cemeteries on approximately 20,000 acres of land.
Information on VA burial benefits can be obtained from national cemetery offices, from the Internet at www.cem.va.gov or by calling VA regional offices toll-free at 1-800-827-1000.
To make burial arrangements at the time of need at any VA national cemetery, call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office toll-free at 1-800-535-1117.
Additional information about the Louisiana National Cemetery is available by calling the Port Hudson National Cemetery office at 225-654-3767.