WIESBADEN, Germany -- Not everyone wants their final resting place to be inside a gated cemetery. In Germany and other areas of Europe, they compassionately recognize and approve a resident's request to be closer to nature when they die and when the family has chosen cremation, by offering an alternative - "Waldfriedhof" or a woodland cemetery.

Forest cemeteries are natural burial grounds that are not closed to the public, but rather a welcome memorial for all to see and are an alternative method of burial for veterans overseas. There are no manicured lawns or headstones to maintain here, just nature.

When a family chooses to have a loved one buried in a cremation-only forest cemetery, their cremated remains are placed in a biodegradable urn. The urn is placed in a designated hole around a tree that has been prepared to the proper depth by standards. A name plate is placed on a tree for family identification and stands as a living tombstone for the deceased. The burial cost and number of urn graves available around a single tree vary and are dependent upon the size of the tree.

"Military Funeral Honor Teams at U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden have adjusted to this type of environment," said Dennis Wahl, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden's Casualty Manager and Retirement Service Officer.

The Army has done a tremendous job of honoring our deceased veterans and their survivor's wishes when it comes to providing Military Funeral Honors Wahl said. Depending on the size of the tree and distance to the adjacent trees, the team will position the bugler at a distant tree that allows him or her to enter the flag folding area from the direction behind the burial tree location. This allows
for easy access without going through the family members to reach the flag folding site. The team will in most cases bring a portable chair, without straight legs that could sink into the ground, for the next of kin.

There are two advantages to this choice of burial location. The first advantage is the cost which ranges from approximately 450 to 1,400 Euros ($500 to $1,900), which can be more affordable for veteran family member survivors. The second advantage is the grave site is purchased with no contract termination date. A normal cemetery grave plot is purchased by the total years they wish to have the grave plot for their love one and at the end of the contract the site is cleared and made available to others.

For more information about casualty assistance services and options contact Dennis Wahl, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Casualty Manager and Retirement Service Officer at (0611) 143-548-1614 or email dennis.g.wahl.civ@mail.mil.