Wilson Urges VA Secretary to Expand Santa Fe Vets Cemetery
Congresswoman Heather Wilson today briefed VA Secretary Jim Nicholson on the possibility of expanding the Santa Fe National Cemetery. Wilson invited Nicholson to tour the facility and hear more about expansion possibilities.
Wilson has worked throughout her eight years in Congress to extend the life of the cemetery and plan a follow-on when it is closed to new interments.
Fourteen acres adjacent to the existing Cemetery is available for lease or purchase, and Wilson wants the VA to carefully review the possibility of expansion given the land that is now available.
Wilson said Secretary Nicholson is interested in researching and considering that option, and examining the trade-off of higher purchase costs versus the lower maintenance costs of not opening a new cemetery in future years.
In addition to the 14 acres, Wilson and Nicholson today also thanked the city of Santa Fe for their decision to donate five acres to the Cemetery.
"Congresswoman Wilson and the Santa Fe City Council have played pivotal roles in providing expanded services to New Mexico veterans. I look forward to continuing discussions on potential ways to further expand services," said Veterans Affairs Secretary R. James Nicholson.
"The donation of land by the city of Santa Fe is really great news for New Mexico veterans," says Congresswoman Heather Wilson. "Veterans worry about having a final resting place. This land is an important part of extending the life of the Santa Fe National Cemetery as we continue to work through longer term options. I'm also grateful to Sec. Nicholson for accepting my invitation today to tour the Cemetery and see the opportunities we have."
Wilson says the extra land available, in conjunction with the land recently donated by the City of Santa Fe, could be used to prolong the life of the Santa Fe National Cemetery. With the additional land - a combined total of 19.7 acres -it's possible the Cemetery could continue to accept new internments for more than 60 years, providing a resting place for an additional 34,000 New Mexico veterans.
Wilson asked Nicholson and his department to review a proposal submitted by the current owner of the land and to assess the costs and benefits of this approach compared to establishing a new Veterans cemetery in north central New Mexico when Santa Fe is closed to new internments.