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updated: 6/18/2014 4:31 PM

Cuts mean delays at veterans cemetery

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  • Joe Curran works on sod Tuesday in the Danville National Cemetery in Danville, Ill. Curran was transferred temporarily this week from Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery near Joliet to help the Danville cemetery, which has had staff reductions.

      Joe Curran works on sod Tuesday in the Danville National Cemetery in Danville, Ill. Curran was transferred temporarily this week from Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery near Joliet to help the Danville cemetery, which has had staff reductions.
    Tracy Moss/The News-Gazette

 
Associated Press

DANVILLE, Ill. -- The staff at Danville National Cemetery has been cut in half, and that's leading to delays in burying some veterans, a cemetery official says.

One of the four staff members at the cemetery just west of the Indiana state line recently retired and another resigned. Neither is being replaced, Peter Young told The News-Gazette in Champaign on Tuesday. Young oversees the cemetery for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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That means burials and cremations are limited now to one each a day.

The cemetery averages about three funerals a week, according to Young. But there are days when it has more than one.

The funeral for one veteran was held on a recent Friday. But the staff couldn't bury him for five days.

"It's a nuisance. It's really affecting the funeral home directors and families (of veterans)," said Ralph Reed, who is in charge of the honor guard at American Legion Post 210 in Danville. "It's a mess."

The honor guard has worked at 74 burials at the Danville cemetery this year, Reed said, adding that in the past it hasn't been unusual to do more than one a day.

"We are doing the best we can," said Young. "We will work with people. We want to accommodate everyone, but I also have to look at the staff I have."

According to Brad Tucker of Sunset Funeral Home and Cremation Center, some families now have to decide if they want to wait to hold funerals until a day when burial is possible.

Young said Veterans Affairs plans to add contract help that should start in August, but he isn't sure yet if that will mean a change in the one-per-day rule.

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