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Veterans in abandoned mausoleum could be moved to Exeter, RI official says

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CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) – Veterans who are interred at the abandoned Roger Williams Park Mausoleum in Cranston could be laid to rest at the R.I. Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Exeter, according to the state’s director of veterans affairs.

According to court records, 527 people were buried in the crumbling mausoleum just over the Providence line off Broad Street.

Though no specific number is known, “a lot of these people are veterans, war heroes,” said funeral director Annette Berarducci. As Target 12 first reported Wednesday, Berarducci is proposing a new plan to disinter and reinter all of the remains in the condemned building.

“They took care of us,” she said. “We have to take care of them.”

R.I. Director of Veterans Affairs Kasim Yarn said his agency would have to determine eligibility for burial, but said reinterment for veterans in the mausoleum is “absolutely” possible.

“The first step, in terms of identifying eligibility, is based on a document, the statement of service. We typically call that the DD214,” Yarn explained. “If we don’t really have access to those documents, then we would utilize our resources to go out and canvas the archives.”

Finding the necessary paperwork may prove to be a challenge. The mausoleum was declared abandoned in 2012, and its records — if they even existed in the first place — were ordered destroyed.

“It’s disheartening,” Yarn said. “At the end of the day, we’re all Rhode Islanders, and all Rhode Islanders deserve to be treated with honor and respect.”

“I look forward to working with the funeral director to step up to the plate in order to help find a final resting place for our loved ones,” he added.

The Veterans Memorial Cemetery is not able to pay for disinterment or transportation costs but will cover the cost of burials for eligible veterans.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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