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VA Set to Add 6 New National Veterans Cemeteries

Hopes to complete facilities by 2008  

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With a recent authorization to establish six new national cemeteries by 2008, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has begun the largest expansion of these national shrines since the Civil War.

"Under President Bush’s leadership, VA is on the path to meet the burial needs of America’s aging veterans," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi. "VA will continue to provide America’s veterans with a dignified and respectful final resting place, now and in the future."

The National Cemetery Act of 2003 authorizes VA to establish new national cemeteries to serve veterans in the areas of Bakersfield, Calif.; Birmingham, Ala.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Sarasota County, Fla.; southeastern Pennsylvania; and Columbia-Greenville, S.C. All six areas have veteran populations exceeding 170,000, which is the threshold VA has established for new national cemeteries.

Each new cemetery will require 200 to 250 acres to serve the current and future burial needs of veterans. Development of these new national cemeteries will provide more veterans with a burial site within 75 miles of their residences.

VA manages the country’s network of national cemeteries with more than 2.5 million gravesites at 120 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico, as well as in 33 soldiers' lots and monument sites.

Information on VA burial benefits can be obtained from national cemetery offices or from VA Web sites on the Internet at http://www.va.gov or http://www.cem.va.gov.

VA Seek Volunteers to Inventory Cemeteries
The VA is also seeking volunteers to research and photograph monuments in its current 120 national cemeteries and 33 soldiers’ lots.

"We have a large number of cemetery memorials, large and small, remaining to be inventoried," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi. "The efforts of dedicated volunteers will assist VA in maintaining all national cemeteries as national shrines." Read more...

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