On October 1, 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that they will award more than $47 million in grants to establish, expand and improve veterans’ cemeteries. The grants will fund 18 projects in 15 states across the country.
In 1978, VA created the Veterans Cemetery Grants Program to aid the country’s 131 national VA cemeteries. The program assists recognized tribal governments in providing gravesites for veterans living in areas where the VA’s national cemeteries cannot satisfy the family’s burial needs, according to the VA. The grants can be used to establish or improve cemeteries that are operated by a state, tribal government or in a U.S. territory like Guam and Saipan.
Under the Veterans Cemetery Grants Program, the VA can provide up to 100 percent of an approved project’s development cost. While states, territories and tribal governments are responsible for acquiring the land, VA will provide the operating equipment for the establishment of new cemeteries.
Two of the larger grants given recently will establish new cemeteries in South Dakota and Louisiana. VA provided $8.3 million to Slidell, Louisiana, and $6.5 million to the Oglala Sioux tribe of Pine Ridge, South Dakota.
Grants were also given to cemeteries in Sierra Vista, Arizona; North Little Rock, Arkansas; Kauai, Hawaii; Boise, Idaho; Boulder City, Nevada; Missoula, Montana; Little Falls, Minnesota; Wrightstown, New Jersey; Amelia, Virginia; Suffolk, Virginia; Bear, Delaware; Milledgeville, Georgia; Sandusky, Ohio; Exeter, Rhode Island; and Evansville, Wyoming.
“VA is committed to helping state and tribal veterans cemeteries meet national shrine standards and honor veterans with dignified burials,” said Eric Shinseki, secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “It is vitally important that state and tribal governments have the resources necessary to offer quality services to our nation’s veterans and their families.”
VA is committed to providing proper burials for the nation’s veterans. Those who were honorably discharged, die on active duty, serve a period of active duty as required by law and the spouses and eligible dependent children of these individuals can be buried in a state veteran cemetery.
To date, the VA Veterans Cemetery Grants Program has helped create and maintain 88 new cemeteries in 43 states, providing essential benefits at the veteran’s time of death. In the 2012 fiscal year, these cemeteries have provided for more than 31,000 burials, VA reported.
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