Providence, R.I. – Governor Lincoln D. Chafee announced today that the Rhode Island Division of Veterans Affairs has been awarded a grant of approximately $658,000 for the construction of a new columbarium at the Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery.
"I was very pleased when the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Shinseki informed Rhode Island of this award," Governor Chafee said. "The fine men and women in the military have sacrificed so much for our state. Rhode Island must be a state that honors and respects them by doing all we can both during and after their service."
A columbarium is a cemetery building with vaults that house cremation urns. The new columbarium planned for the Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery will have 2,160 niches. It will be the third columbarium at the Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery.
"This award by the Department of Veterans Affairs enables us to continue to serve our veterans and their families with added choice and dignity in the years ahead," said Sandra M. Powell, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Human Services. "Having this service available at the Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery allows us to offer veterans another option for final resting places for those who have served our country in the armed forces."
Kim Ripoli, Associate Director of the Division of Veterans Affairs in the Department of Human Services, noted the rise in the number of cremations in the United States. "Statistics show that the rate of cremations has nearly doubled in the last fifteen years. As veterans and their families make these decisions, we want to be able to honor their choices and to have facilities at the Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery that are worthy of Rhode Island's veterans."
The Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery is located at 301 South County Trail, Exeter, R.I. There are currently 37,620 gravesites at the 338-acre site and 1,300 niches, with 1,200 burials taking place there each year. The Rhode Island Veterans Cemetery grounds, and the 31 monuments dedicated to the veterans of specific wars and conflicts are open to the public.