The Roseburg National Cemetery Annex is making more room for veterans who would like to make it their final resting place.
Construction has begun on an expansion of the columbarium wall, where cremated remains of local veterans are interred.
Roseburg National Cemetery Director Wayne Goddard said the project will create room for an additional 1,500 veterans to be placed in the columbarium. It also involved building 800 additional cremation gravesites, where cremated remains can be buried. No additional casket gravesites are being created at this time.
The original cemetery on Harvard Avenue and the annex across from the Roseburg VA Medical Center campus are currently the resting places of 6,700 deceased veterans.
Goddard said the expansion is based on the National Cemetery Administration’s projections of the need in coming years.
The numbers of living World War II and Korean War veterans are dwindling, but increased capacity will be needed to hold Vietnam veterans, most of whom are now in their mid-60s to mid-80s.
The enlargement of the columbarium also reflects the increased popularity of cremation over casket burial. Those who are cremated can either be buried or placed in the columbarium.
Either way, Goddard said, it’s good for them to be placed in a “shrine of honor and dignity where we can honor the veterans for their service.”
He said veterans’ spouses, minor children and some dependent adult children can also be placed in the national cemetery.
Goddard said the anticipated completion date for construction is spring 2021. However, he said it’s possible the pandemic will create delays.
He sometimes hears concerns from veterans about whether there will be room for them when their time comes. But he said they need not worry.
The bottom line is there’s plenty of space available.
“The Roseburg cemetery with that annex there is going to be open for many, many years to come,” he said.