Slidell Cemetery Continues to Flourish
Southeast Louisiana Veterans Cemetery (SELVC) Director and U.S. Navy Veteran, Ted Krumm, has been instrumental in helping pave the way for the success of the cemetery located in Slidell, Louisiana.
This Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs (LDVA) cemetery has experienced an impressive growth rate as evidenced by the 1,664 dignified burials they have provided to Veterans and their eligible dependents since opening its doors in 2014.
LDVA operates four Veterans cemeteries located across the state, offering a variety of burial options for Veterans, spouses, and dependent children. Each location features beautiful and spacious grounds, covered shelter for committal services, and is open Monday through Friday for interments with visitation open daily. The LDVA will be breaking ground on its fifth and final cemetery in Jennings, La., later this year.
Burial benefits may include grave sites for casket or cremated remains, headstones or markers, opening and closing of the graves, and continued perpetual care.
Based on available resources, funeral honors may be available and may include the presence of military members, folding and presentation of the flag, firing details, and the sounding of Taps. Military Funeral Honors are available through the different branches of service upon request and upon availability.
Ever since it opened, the SELVC team helped educate their surrounding communities, sent out information packets to every funeral home in the 13 parishes that make up their area, developed valuable relationships with local news stations, and actively promoted the SELVC at various community events.
According to Director Krumm, those proactive outreach initiatives and many other factors have contributed to the level of growth and success that the cemetery has experienced.
First and foremost, he says, “it is the people who work here who make all the difference. You need a great staff to get great results.”
The second aspect he believes has contributed to SELVC’s success is the outstanding level of community support.
Several local organizations have helped provide specialized services as well. The North Shore Honor Guard supplements their committal services by providing the rifle volley salutes when the family requests it. Rifle volleys consists of no less than three and no more than seven rifles firing three volleys in memory of the fallen.
SELVC has also benefitted from the financial support of various Knights of Columbus groups. These generous volunteers have donated a bench, help set up the avenue of flags, donated and are in the process of installing a fountain, and continue to provide an impressive presence during ceremonies.
The Hero’s Farewell Project, which was specifically created to honor our veteran heroes and their families in the final phase of life, adopted the SELVC and raised money for the benches and fan that provide comfort for families during the committal services.
The Slidell Police Department has helped the SELVC with traffic flow during big events, the American Legion Riders donated a much-needed second vase container, the Legion’s Auxiliary donated a bench, and the St. Tammany Parish Veterans & Military Affairs Advisory Council continuously helps to generate interest in cemetery events through their networks.
The Iris Club planted irises in the scatter garden, groups have donated a tree, planted roses, and two families donated golf carts which helped reduce the amount of wear and tear on SELVC equipment.
SELVC is also blessed with a slew of volunteers such as the Civil Air Patrol St. Tammany Composite Squadron and Junior ROTC groups who provide the color guard, and people who just donate their time to help clean headstones or do work to help out the cemetery. The recent Veterans’ Court option to perform community service at SELVC has helped tremendously.
Clearly, Abraham Lincoln’s quote resonates within this community – “To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own.”
Krumm encourages other community groups to consider donating their time and talents as well. “We are always looking for volunteers! We need help with parking during big events, and with the setup and breakdown.”
He also shares that there are some items that are outside of the budget of the state, but would be useful to make the cemetery even better. “We cannot solicit donations, but anyone can donate to the Hero’s Farewell Project on our behalf.”
Krumm says that he would be remiss if he did not give credit to former LDVA Secretary Lane Carson who was, “the driving force that helped open the SELVC doors, and coordinated the land donation with the Louisiana National Guard, and with Army Corps of Engineers, community and congressional leaders in order to make this happen.”
He also gushes about the incredible SELVC team who go above and beyond to keep the grounds pristine and take care of the needs of the military families who call on them. “The current staff is great! They are all incredibly hardworking and dedicated,” he says.
“Daniele Palen is my right arm and a valuable team member who takes care of all of SELVC administrative needs, schedules interments, and provides the required empathy that is needed when meeting with military families,” says Krumm.
“Corey Saulny leads the grounds crew and is the driving force behind keeping our cemetery looking great” he says. “He takes care of family’s needs by ensuring burials are done as scheduled, and monuments are placed as soon as possible.” That is not an easy task with the amount of burials that SELVC does in a month, he explains.
“Corey’s team, which is comprised of Charles Williams, Joni Berg, Karl Brinkerhoff, and Christopher Fernandez, each do a great job,” says Krumm.
“Charles is the mobile equipment operator that operates and maintains the heavy equipment. In addition, he is a talented carpenter that has built tables, podiums, and various other items we needed, saving the LDVA from having to make those purchases.”
“Joni, Carl, and Christopher do everything from preparing gravesites, interments, setting of monuments, grass cutting, weed eating, setting of monuments, other maintenance and assisting Charles as needed. We do more with less because of the quality of our staff,” says Krumm with a sense of pride.
Ted Krumm assumed the duties as Director of the SELVC in May of 2014. A graduate from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, Krumm was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy in 1979. Over the next 23 years, Krumm served aboard three amphibious ships and one cruiser. His ships participated in the Grenada Rescue, and Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. As a Lieutenant, he commanded Naval Reserve Centers in Shreveport, Monroe, and Alexandria. He served one tour in Washington, D.C. at Military Sealift Command at the Navy Yard and then as Commanding Officer of the Naval Reserve Center in Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico. He retired in 2002 as a Commander from the Naval Reserve Force headquarters staff. He has been married to the former Lisa Ann Smith for 38 years and has three grown sons, Jason, Justin and Matt.
“This is more than a job to me,” says Krumm. “I believe this was a divine calling,” he shares. Krumm had been the caregiver for his mother who had Alzheimer’s and dementia for the two years prior to hearing of this position of which he says he had no previous experience. “But, God’s plans are bigger than our plans and his timing is perfect.”
The week after he had to place his mom in a memory care facility in Tampa, he was hired as SELVC Cemetery Director. “I get to work with Veterans again, and help provide their final experience with the military. It is truly an honor.”
“If you are looking for a Veterans’ cemetery where you receive a dignified burial with proper military honors, and a final resting place for your loved one in a safe and well-kept environment, the SELVC is here for you,” says Krumm.