The Department of Veterans Affairs announced the award of 18 grants totaling $47,462,135 to 15 states and one tribal government to establish new Veterans cemeteries and to expand or improve others.
"VA is committed to helping state and tribal Veterans cemeteries meet national shrine standards and honor Veterans with dignified burials," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. "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 provides grants to states and tribal governments to establish, expand or improve Veterans cemeteries, and for operations and maintenance projects.
Two of the larger grants for more than $14 million went to establish new state and tribal Veterans cemeteries in Louisiana and South Dakota. Louisiana received $8.3 million to build a new cemetery in Slidell, La., and the Oglala Sioux tribe received $6.5 million to establish a new tribal Veterans cemetery in Pine Ridge, S.D. This will be the third state Veterans cemetery in Louisiana and the fourth tribal Veterans cemetery grant VA has awarded.
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The Veterans Cemetery Grants Program is designed to complement VA's 131 national cemeteries across the country. Since 1980, the program has awarded grants totaling more than $483 million to establish, expand, improve, operate and maintain 88 Veterans cemeteries in 43 states and territories including tribal trust lands, Guam, and Saipan. These cemeteries provided more than 29,000 burials in 2011.
Veterans with a discharge issued under conditions other than dishonorable, who die while on active duty or who serve a period of active duty service as required by law, their spouses, and eligible dependent children may be buried in a state Veterans cemetery. States, territories or tribal governments may impose residency requirements and other limitations to eligibility in addition to those imposed by federal law. State eligibility requirements, however, may not be less stringent than Federal requirements.
Information on VA burial benefits can be obtained from national cemetery offices, by calling VA regional offices toll-free at 800-827-1000 or from the Internet at http://www.cem.va.gov.