State to receive grant dollars to establish veterans cemetery in Redwood County
The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recently notified the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) of its plans to award a grant in FY 2021 to establish a state veterans cemetery in Redwood County.
Larry Herke, MDVA commissioner, responded to the NCA and accepted the grant offer.
The tentative grant amount is $5.9 million.
“We appreciate the NCA’s support in expanding the state veterans cemeteries in Minnesota,” said Herke. “This grant funding is an important first step in making this new cemetery a reality.”
Congressman Collin Peterson applauds the decision that would serve more than 22,000 veterans, their spouses and eligible family members. As a veteran of the National Guard and a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs committee, Peterson has worked on the federal level to secure this award.
“It is very important to me that those who have served our nation are honored throughout their lives and are laid to rest with the respect and appreciation they deserve,” Peterson said. “It’s taken over 10 years of relentless advocacy by many people and groups to get to this point. I’m honored that I could help in the effort to get federal funding for this important project.”
Acceptance of this grant opportunity begins a year-long pro-cess in design, planning and hopefully the final award of the grant dollars to MDVA at the start of federal fiscal year 2022, which begins Oct. 1, 2021. The MDVA is working with Redwood County officials to confirm the state’s ownership of the property as a first step.
“Thanks to the assistance and willingness of Redwood County to make this investment. It allows us to improve services to the veterans of the State of Minnesota and their families,” said Brad Lindsay, the MDVA deputy commissioner.
When veterans asked for Congressman Peterson’s support at a March 2019 town hall in Redwood County, Peterson made this project a priority at the federal level. He raised the project at veterans’ affairs committee hearings, and advocated for the project in meetings and through staff communications. The Congressman made federal funding for programs that serve veterans his top priority in the appropriations process.
“I remain committed to supporting our veterans and prioritizing projects like this and the veterans homes proposed for Minnesota. It’s why I sought my seat on the veterans’ affairs committee,” added Peterson.
There have been hurdles at all levels throughout the decade-long process to get funding for this veterans cemetery. The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs deferred prior opportunities to move this project forward with the National Cemetery Administration, and the White House previously chose to not fund this project as well.
“We thank Representative Peterson for cutting through bureaucratic red tape to secure the much needed funding for the new veterans cemetery in Redwood Falls,” said Curt Hermanson, VFW state commander. “This accomplishment is important for veterans and their families throughout the entire southwest Minnesota area.”
According to Mark Dvorak, American Legion Department of Minnesota commander, “the time is now to fund the Redwood Falls veterans cemetery. This community has an outstanding track record of supporting veterans and their families. Meanwhile, expansions to other cemeteries, rather than new ones, have been funded. The need for a veterans cemetery in this part of Minnesota is necessary, and expanding far-away cemeteries won’t cut it. We are grateful to U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson for his work on this matter.”
“It is great to know that the 22,198 unserved veterans in southwest Minnesota are going to have the benefit of this vital veteran’s cemetery,” said Dustin Hunter, Redwood County veterans service officer. “Some veterans have lost hope over the process but now that hope has changed to cheers.”
Greg Peterson, president of the Minnesota Association of County Veterans Service Officers, added, “We are jubilant of news from the National Cemetery Administration to partner with the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs in placing a veterans cemetery in southwestern Minnesota. The majestic landscape of the Minnesota River Valley nearby Redwood Falls is the perfect location for our noble and valiant veterans to rest in perpetuity with their brothers and sisters in arms. We eagerly look forward to the groundbreaking in 2021 and certainly the cemetery’s completion and dedication thereafter.”
Veterans who wish to be buried there should consider completing a pre-registration to determine eligibility. Call 1-888-LinkVet or find their service officer at www.macvso.org/.