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Although it is one of the smaller states area-wise, New Jersey ranks ninth overall in number of veterans and second in median age of those veterans; but by 1965, both federal cemeteries in the state at Finn's Point and Beverly were closed to new interments. Officials could see that New Jersey's large and older veterans population would not be properly served in the future without a new veterans cemetery within the state.
With space in national cemeteries limited, the federal government recognized the need for additional land to accommodate deceased veterans who wished to be interred in national cemeteries and the financial burden associated with the program. As an alternative to constructing new national cemeteries, in 1978, the federal government appropriated grant money for states to construct their own.
In 1981, the Department of Human Services' Division of Veterans Programs and Special Services was authorized to initiate a plan for the development of a state veterans cemetery. Acting on this authority, Brigadier General William C. Doyle, director of the division, contacted the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Division of State Cemetery Grants with a proposal. Following that, William F. Fauver, commissioner of the Department of Corrections, authorized the transfer of 184 acres of land in Arneytown, Burlington County, to the Department of Human Services to be used as a cemetery site.
In 1982, Senator Herman T. Costello's bill (originally introduced in 1979 at the request of Joseph Gerety, Riverside) was signed into law appropriating $100,000 for planning the cemetery. In 1983, a contractor was selected, and the North Hanover Township Committee passed a resolution in favor of the construction of a veterans cemetery within the municipality. In September of that year, Colonel Warren L. Davis, director of the Division of Veterans Programs, formally applied for a grant from VA. VA committed $600,000 in support of the initial development of the facility. In February 1984, after reviewing the application, VA committed $1,307,000 to the project. New Jersey provided an equal share with a $857,000 cash appropriation and $450,000 in land value.
In May a master plan was completed; ground was broken by Governor Thomas H. Kean and George J. Albanese, commissioner of the Department of Human Services, on a frigid November 13; and construction began January 1985.
On Memorial Day, May 30, 1986 - a sunny, sweltering hot afternoon - Governor Kean dedicated New Jersey's first state-operated veterans cemetery "as a lasting memorial to those men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our country's honor and freedom."
The cemetery was named for Brigadier General Doyle on January 3, 1989.
The BG Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery provides eligible veteran residents of New Jersey the opportunity to be interred in a state-operated cemetery dedicated to them. Located on 225 acres in a picturesque setting of partially-wooded land in Arneytown, North Hanover Township, Burlington County, the cemetery features a modern, non-denominational chapel/administration building. Areas are provided for the interment of those cremated and for those veterans whose remains have never been recovered.
The cemetery will accommodate 154,000 veterans and eligible family members.
Burials are free and are available to service members who died while on active duty or to veterans whose last active service ended under other than dishonorable or undesirable conditions. Also eligible are members of any reserve component of the Armed Forces (Army National Guard, Air National Guard or the Reserve Officers Training Corps of the Army, Navy and Air Force) who dies under honorable conditions while on active duty for training or performing full-time service; any member of a reserve component who has attained 20 years of service creditable for retired pay; certain World War II Merchant Marines and those who have attained veteran status.
The veteran or service member must have established legal residence in New Jersey prior to death or have been a legal resident of the state for at least 50 percent of his or her lifetime.
Eligible dependents include the veteran's spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21 and unmarried adult children who became incapable of self support before reaching the age of 21 because of mental or physical impairment. The spouse and/or dependents of a veteran may be interred should they predecease the veteran, with the stipulation and understanding that, upon the veteran's death, the veteran will be interred with the spouse or dependent.
Veterans' burial entitlements include a plot for the veteran, spouse and eligible dependents; a grave liner; interment service; use of the chapel; a U.S. bronze grave marker and granite base; and maintenance in perpetuity, at no charge to the veteran or veteran's family.
REQUESTS FOR BURIAL
Requests for burial may be made at the time of death through any funeral director. The request should be accompanied by proof of the veteran's honorable military service and legal residence in New Jersey. The funeral director will then contact the cemetery. Requests for interment of cremated remains may be made by the family directly to the cemetery office. Although the cemetery will assist in every way possible, establishing eligibility is the responsibility of those requesting the burial and must be established before the burial is permitted.
PROOF OF ELIGIBILITY
Proof of eligible service would be the original or certified copy of the veteran's separation or discharge papers (DD214 or WD Form 53 for World War II veterans). Proof for a reservist would be a valid letter of "Notification of Eligibility for retired pay at age sixty" provided by the Reserve Component Command.
Evidence of legal residence may include: drivers license or phone bills; a continuous voting record; records of personal and/or property tax payments.
After eligibility is confirmed by the cemetery, the funeral director must bring to the cemetery, on the day of interment, the documentary evidence used to prove the veteran's eligibility.
The cemetery office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; burials are scheduled on regular state working days, Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Memorial Day service held yearly; call for date and time. 609-758-7250.