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Veterans cemetery gets federal funding

REDWOOD COUNTY — The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Cemetery Administration recently announced it awarded a $5.9 million grant to create a State Veterans Cemetery in the Minnesota River Valley near Redwood Falls.

Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), a member of the U.S. House Veterans’ Affairs Committee who worked on the federal level to get the grant, applauded the decision to serve more than 22,000 veterans, their spouses and eligible family members in southwest Minnesota.

“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,” Collin Peterson said. “It’s taken more than 10 years of relentless advocacy by many people and groups to get to this point. I’m honored I could help in the effort to get federal funding for this important project.”

Collin Peterson made the project a federal priority after veterans asked for his support at a March 2019 town hall meeting in Redwood Falls. He promoted the project at Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearings with Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie, and advocated for it in meeting with VA Undersecretary for Memorial Affairs Randy Reeves and Veterans Cemetery Grant Program Director George Eisenbach.

Accepting the grant triggers a year-long process of planning, designing and hopefully the final award of the grant to the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) at the start of federal fiscal year 2022, which starts Oct. 1, 2021.

The MDVA is working with Redwood County officials to confirm the state’s ownership of the property as a first step.

Brown County Veterans Service Officer and Minnesota Association of County Veterans Service Officer Greg Peterson was excited to hear the news of the veterans cemetery grant and the cemetery location.

“The majestic landscape of the Minnesota River Valley near Redwood Falls is the perfect location for our noble and vigilant veterans to rest in perpetuity with their brothers and sisters in arms,” said Greg Peterson. “We eagerly look forward to the 2021 groundbreaking and certainly the cemetery completion and dedication.”

Greg Peterson said veterans who wish to be buried in the cemetery should consider completing a pre-registration to determine their eligibility. Call 1-888-546-5838 or find their service officer at 222.macvso.org.

A national veterans cemetery is located at Fort Snelling in Minneapolis. Minnesota Veterans Cemeteries are located in Preston, Duluth and Little Falls. A state veterans cemetery is under construction at Cass Lake.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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