Nation’s 125th Veterans’ Cemetery Opens in South Florida
The South Florida VA National Cemetery opened as the nation’s 125 th national cemetery.
“ This new national cemetery will honor the men and women of Florida who have served our nation ,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson. “ It is my privilege to uphold our commitment to America ‘s veterans by providing a final resting place in a shrine-like setting for these heroes and their families.”
The 313-acre site is located in Palm Beach County , approximately 19 miles northwest of Boca Raton . More than 400,000 veterans live within the service area of the cemetery.
William F. Tuerk, the Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), will observe the first day’s activities. Tuerk is responsible for administering the 125 VA-run national cemeteries.
Burials at the Palm Beach County site will begin in a section that provides 1,708 plots for casketed remains, approximately 4,000 plots for cremated remains and a committal shelter. This small development is separate from the major Phase 1 construction project, and allows for burials to begin during construction of the cemetery.
Additional construction phases will provide permanent infrastructure, such as administration and maintenance buildings, a public assembly area and additional burial facilities. When the Phase 1 construction project is complete (including the initial burial section), the cemetery will provide 14,036 casket sites, 3,000 columbarium niches and 9,469 in-ground niches. Future development will allow the cemetery to continue operations for 30 to 40 years.
Veterans with a discharge other than dishonorable, their spouses and eligible dependent children can be buried in a national cemetery. Other burial benefits include a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, a government headstone or marker and perpetual maintenance of the gravesite. Even a veteran who is not buried in a national cemetery is eligible for a burial flag, certificate and headstone or marker.
In the midst of the largest cemetery expansion since the Civil War, VA operates 125 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico and 33 soldiers’ lots and monument sites. More than three million Americans, including veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in VA’s national cemeteries on more than 16,000 acres of land.
Information on VA burial benefits can be obtained from national cemetery offices, from the Internet at http://www.cem.va.gov, or by calling VA regional offices toll-free at 1-800-827-1000.
For information on the South Florida VA National Cemetery, call the cemetery office at (561) 649-6489.