March 6, 2020
WASHINGTON — The VA’s National Cemetery Administration (NCA) will operate and maintain the post cemetery in Vancouver, Washington, beginning today.
Vancouver Barracks National Cemetery, as it will now be called, was transferred to NCA by the Department of the Army in fulfillment of Executive Order 13781 and the VA’s own Agency Reform plan. It is the fifth cemetery transferred to the NCA by the Army since June 2019.
“We have been given a sacred trust to care for and maintain the memory of the service members and families who have been laid to rest at Vancouver Barracks,” said Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Randy Reeves. “It is a duty we embrace wholeheartedly at each of the 142 national cemeteries that have been entrusted to us.”
Starting now, the VA’s eligibility criteria for burial will apply at Vancouver Barracks National Cemetery. VA criteria are more expansive than the Army’s and will allow more Veterans and their loved ones to be memorialized at the national shrine. In order to provide access while maximizing limited acreage, new interments at the cemetery will be limited to in-ground burial of cremated remains. Casketed burials will be permitted as subsequent interments in existing gravesites for eligible family members. For those Veterans and families in the area that desire casketed interment or inurnment in a columbarium, Willamette National Cemetery located just 18 miles away in Portland, Oregon, remains the closest full-service national cemetery.
Vancouver Barracks was established in 1849 as the first U.S. Army post in the Pacific Northwest. It closed as an active post in 2011. The cemetery contains more than 1,500 occupied gravesites, including U.S. military personnel, civilians, foreign personnel, German and Italian POW’s, Native Americans and Unknowns. It will be administered by Willamette National Cemetery.
The Army and the NCA are continuing to plan for the transfer of additional Army cemeteries in the coming months. Ft. Lawton Post Cemetery in Seattle and Ft. Missoula Post Cemetery in Missoula, Montana, were transferred to NCA in June and October 2019. Ft. Sheridan National Cemetery in Illinois and Ft. Douglas Post Cemetery in Utah were transferred in December 2019. Six more cemeteries will be transferred to NCA in 2020. These include the post cemeteries at Ft. McClellan, Alabama; Ft. Worden, Washington; Ft. Stevens, Oregon; Ft. Devens, Massachusetts; Benicia Arsenal, California; and the Enemy Prisoner of War Cemetery located at Ft. McClellan.
For more information about Vancouver Barracks National Cemetery, contact Willamette National Cemetery director Pete Sardo at (503) 273-5250. To make burial arrangements at Vancouver Barracks National Cemetery, or at any VA national cemetery, call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at (800) 535-1117. For more information about the transfer of other Army Cemeteries, contact NCA Public Affairs at (202) 632-8035.
Source: US Department of Veteran Affairs (03/06/2020)