Staffing reduction causes changes to service scheduling at Danville National Cemetery

DANVILLE -- A Central Illinois cemetery for veterans is switching its schedule after staff reductions earlier this year.

Changes to how often fallen heroes are laid to rest at the Danville National Cemetery are causing some commotion.

"We did his funeral out on the parking lot at sunset, that was on Friday. His burial wasn't until the following Wednesday at the national cemetery," said Ralph Reed, a member of American Legion Post 210's honor guard, as he reflected on the complications surrounding the delayed burial services of a fallen friend. "All that time went by, we weren't there with him."

The cemetery used to host up to five burials a day, but a decrease in staff forced a decrease in services, and now the Danville National Cemetery offers one burial and one cremation each weekday.

"The initial time there was a disconnect," said cemetery representative, Rudi Shelton. "But I reached out to the funeral homes, and in that time, we started working with them and as that kind of kicked in, we haven't had the issues."

One issue that does remain is the toll the change is taking on members of the local honor guard, who attend many of these burials to send off soldiers with a special ceremony.

"Instead of having one a day, have two or three a day and then have a break in between," said Reed, who also is in charge of the guard. "I mean these guys are out there five days a week, that really messes [us] up. But we're still going to do it."

As for the possibility of reinstating the old procedures, Shelton is unsure.

"I  don't know, I would assume that it's probably going to go back to where we have the multiples, but they may not," said Shelton.

And the final decision will be made by higher level officials, once they handle the staffing issues that started this all.
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