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VA purchases land for new national cemetery in Colorado

SUN Columnist

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has purchased land in Colorado for a new national cemetery in the southeast portion of Colorado Springs.

“We are pleased to expand burial service to veterans and their families in southern Colorado,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “Acquiring the land is a key step forward in the process.”

VA plans to construct the cemetery in the southeast portion of Colorado Springs. The facility will serve approximately 95,000 veterans and family members who are not within 75 miles of an open national, state or tribal veterans’ cemetery. The closest national cemetery is Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, about 85 miles further.

VA completed acquisition of 374 acres of land on Jan. 21 from CS 2005 Investments LLC. The property, known as the Rolling Hills Ranch, is located east of Marksheffel Road between Bradley and Drennan Roads.

When VA receives construction funding, it will proceed with the initial phase of construction, which includes development of cemetery roads, an entrance, administration and public information center, committal shelters and a maintenance facility. This infrastructure will support approximately 10 years of initial burial capacity for casket gravesites, cremation sites and columbarium niches.

This will be the third VA national cemetery in Colorado. The other two are Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver and Fort Lyon National Cemetery in Las Animas.

In addition to the two VA national cemeteries in Colorado, there are two state-run cemeteries: the Veterans Memorial Cemetery of Western Colorado in Grand Junction, which was funded by a VA construction grant, and the Colorado State Veterans Center at Homelake in Monte Vista.

Veterans with a qualifying discharge, their spouses and eligible dependent children may be buried in a VA national cemetery. Also eligible are military personnel who die on active duty, their spouses and eligible dependents.

Other burial benefits available for all eligible veterans, regardless of whether they are buried in a national cemetery or a private cemetery, include a burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate and a government headstone or marker.

To make burial arrangements at any VA national cemetery at the time of need, call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at (800) 535-1117.

Further information 

For further information on VA benefits, call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard.

The best way to contact me is to set up an appointment at home or in the office so I can schedule specific time in order to answer and assist each veteran in Archuleta County.

I will be out of the office on the following days for regularly scheduled meetings:

• Vets4Vets: Tuesday mornings, 9 a.m.-noon.

• Arboles Community Center, first and third Thursdays. Back around 2 p.m.

• Pagosa Outreach Connection, 8:30-10 a.m. every Thursday.

• Home visits/Pine Ridge outreach, second and fourth Thursdays, back at 2 p.m.

The office number is 264-4013, fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590 and e-mail is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for completing applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to, and a copy for filing in the Archuleta County VSO office. If the office is closed, I am out assisting veterans; leave me a message and phone number to contact you.

This story was posted on January 30, 2014.