Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery implements new guidelines during coronavirus pandemic

VA National Cemeteries are open and are adjusting its services in response to the COVID-19 epidemic.

SAN ANTONIO – The coronavirus is impacting the way veterans are laid to rest.

All Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemeteries are adjusting operations in response to the coronavirus.

At Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, new guidelines were implemented Monday.

“Funeral homes will come out and then we’ll take over custody of the remains, and then we complete the interment process,” said Aubrey David, director of Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery.

This will be the only way those who served our country will be laid to rest at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery until further notice.

“We’re currently not holding committal services at our shelters for family members to attend,” David said.

As part of federal efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus, large committal services and military burial honors will come to a stop at veterans’ cemeteries.

“Currently our volunteer honor guard, they are VA volunteers, and they currently are not rendering honors because we’re not having committal services at our shelters. We’re doing this to protect not only the funereal homes and the families but our volunteers and our staff as well,” David said.

David said they are following guidelines from the CDC.

“So even though we’re open for visitation and the community is more than welcome to come out and visit their loved ones’ grave sites, we just want on them to stay safe and minimize the travel if they can,” David said.

He said even if families choose to have a person buried right now, they can schedule a full service at a later date.

“I think for our national cemeteries -- it’s our job to provide dignified, respectful burials for our veterans, and I’m just glad that we’re able to remain open and continue to provide those services,” David said.

Families may request to view the burial, but they will be kept at a safe distance, with no more than 10 immediate family members. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said families can postpone a currently scheduled burial to a later date.

The cemetery will remain open for visitations.

To learn more visit this website: https://www.cem.va.gov/CEM/index.asp

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