- Associated Press - Monday, August 17, 2015

ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. (AP) - Many veterans and their family members who could qualify aren’t taking advantage of free burials at Rock Island National Cemetery, officials at the western Illinois cemetery said.

“We’re far from full and can expand,” Lolly Weihler, a cemetery representative, told the Rock Island Argus (https://bit.ly/1IO4f5E ).

That’s even with the average 20 services per week that the cemetery now holds, she said. About 31,000 people are buried at the cemetery dating to the Civil War. The cemetery, located at Rock Island Arsenal, has room for burials until at least 2056.

Many may not realize they qualify, including those who were only on active duty for a short time and certain National Guard and Reserve members, Weihler said.

Burial at the cemetery includes a free burial plot, headstone and outer container for the casket. Cemetery staff also provides perpetual care for the plot and headstone once the burial is complete, cemetery director Scott Lamb said. They try to check and fix between 2,000 and 3,000 headstones a year.



The cemetery also can provide burial services for cremated remains, and spouses and children also can be buried in the cemetery.

The cemetery was established in 1863 to bury Union soldiers who died while serving as guards at a large Confederate prison camp on Rock Island. The cemetery holds the remains of soldiers who served in the Civil War, Mexican War, Indian wars, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam wars and Persian Gulf and Iraq wars.

Two Medal of Honor recipients are buried there.

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Online: https://www.cem.va.gov/cems/nchp/rockisland.asp

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Information from: The Rock Island Argus, https://www.qconline.com/index.shtml

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