SEASIDE – Since the California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery opened in 2016, only the columbaria for cremains has been available at the 79-acre property that once was part of the Fort Ord Army base.

That will change in 2021, when Phase II is completed and in-ground burials can begin at the cemetery operated by the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet).

A groundbreaking ceremony scheduled for March 21 was postponed due to the COVID-19 emergency, but it didn’t stop the beginning of construction that is expected to take about a year to complete. When it is done, the cemetery will have 1,842 pre-placed crypts, 1,039 in-ground cremains gravesites, and 80 memorial wall plaques, along with roads, landscaping, and supporting infrastructure.

“Families whose religious beliefs or personal tenets demand traditional in-ground burials will be able to bury their veterans and spouses in accordance with their beliefs and wishes,” said CalVet Secretary Vito Imbasciani MD. “They will be able to combine their faith and their patriotism.”

Phase II will affect about 5.6 acres of the 79-acre facility, which is three miles northeast of downtown Seaside.

A Veterans Cemetery Grant of up to $6.4 million from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA) will fund the expansion. CalVet will provide any additional funds needed to complete the project and will manage it just as it has Phase I.

The cemetery received an Organizational Excellence Award from the USDVA in October 2019. The award goes only to the nation’s very best veterans cemeteries.

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