What's the hold up? Group wants approval on war memorial plan

What's the hold up? Group wants approval on war memorial plan

PORTLAND, Ore. – A group of military mothers is trying to build a memorial for fallen heroes at Willamette National Cemetery, but they say they've been waiting for more than two years for approval from the VA.

The group Blue Star Mothers of Oregon plans to build a memorial near the cemetery's parking lot. Crews will have to dig into a hillside and clear the way for a courtyard with a fountain, polls and flags. It's meant to be a peaceful spot for families to remember their loved ones who died in the military.

Terry Carroll, the group's president, is the proud mother of Ben, who's in the Navy. She says the group has drawn up plans, lined up the contractor, gotten permission from the cemetery and the VA's regional office. But she says their request has been sitting in Washington, D.C. for more than two years and their approval letter has never arrived.

"I understand it's a long process, and I'm willing to wait," Carroll said. "But give us a timeline, you know, don't just keep saying it's coming, it's coming – we're waiting for this, we're waiting for that. Just tell us."

Carroll says the memorial will be different from others in Oregon in that it honors anyone who is killed while on duty, not just people who have died in the theater of war.

"The whole purpose of this memorial is to honor the kids who have been killed on active duty, whether they committed suicide, were in a car accident, were killed in theater of war, whatever it was, we want to honor all of them," she said.

She says some Oregonians, like Bruce Jeremy Burgess, are currently left out. He apparently fell off his ship off the coast of California during the Iraq War.

"They never did find his body," Carroll said. "He shouldn't be forgotten. But he's not on the memorial in Salem because he didn't die in the theater of war."

KATU News has called the VA about what’s holding up the approval letter, but it has not yet heard back.

The Blue Star Mothers of Oregon hope they'll be able to get that approval letter by Aug. 17, the day of their annual "Run for the Fallen," and almost three years after they sent the request to Washington, D.C.