Expansion of Veterans Cemetery discussed
Guam - The plan to expand Veterans Cemetary in Piti is moving forward. And it not only includes more crypts and plots, but is set to increase its longevity by 20 years.
A roundtable discussion was held last Friday by the Committee on Veterans Affairs, and according to VA administrator John Unpingco, while there's been a cloud of confusion of the impact of sequestration to several programs, veterans affairs will be exempt. "The disability claims and the pension money will still flow to Guam," he explained. "They amount roughly to between $66 million to $70 million, so that will be uninterrupted."
And with that worry out of the way, Unpingco has other projects to look forward to such as the expansion and improvement of Veterans Cemetery, which he discussed in a presentation to lawmakers. "We are at this point two years from completely filling Veterans Cemetery, so the project is coming at a good time," he said.
The VA received a $3.9 million grant from the National Cemetery Association for the expansion, along with a $175,000 grant for operations and maintenance. "What this would entail is the sunken crypts, the crypts have caved in, they will be raised and by 4'-x-10' raised square, we'll clear the turf and change it and we'll also repaint parts of crypts that are bad and in need of painting," he said.
The project also includes adding over 900 crypts to its 600 count and nearly one thousand column burials. Unpingco says the construction planning phase is close to half way done and should be done by May with construction to start by this summer. "Now the construction phase is expected to last for sixth months, so that will bring us to January 1, 2014 to complete it. Now we have also applied for supplemental funding because this does not cover all the needs of the cemetery," he said.
Ultimately he says now was the time to act and is even looking at other areas for expansion. "Moving forward we do need more space or the cemetery; eventually I'll see in the future expanding beyond our borders," he said.