Federal grant allows military cemetery to expand
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Central Texas is home to one of the largest groups of military retirees in the country, thanks in part to Fort Hood in Killeen, and as the retirees age, the need for burial space is increasing.
Since opening in 2006, more than 4,000 Texas veterans, spouses and family members have been interred here at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery.
"We also have out here 28 KIAs from Iraq and Afghanistan," cemetery director Charles Walden said. “We get to take care of the people who take care of us during wartime, during peacetime."
But the demand for burial space is on the rise.
"Most of the World War II veterans are gone now, but we're getting a lot of the Korea and the Viet Nam veterans," Walden said.
The original columbarium had space for 1,121 urns. Now a $1 million federal grant is expanding the space for cremated remains.
“The new one which we just started construction on will have 1,600 additional niches," Walden said.
It's important to this military community.
"We know what they give up,” supporter Jean Shine said. “We know their dedication. We know what their families give up for our nation."
The Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery hosts about three burial services each day.
The current 64-acre site will eventually accommodate about 45,000 more burials.