The Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration announced Tuesday it has purchased a little over eight acres from a private owner to establish a national cemetery near Twin Falls –- the first such cemetery in Idaho.
The purchase price was $51,250.
“We are proud to announce the shared goal of honoring our nation’s veterans by expanding burial service to veterans, their spouses and families in Idaho,” said Interim Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Ronald Walters. “This national cemetery will help us reach veterans in rural parts of Idaho who have not previously had reasonable access to a national or state veterans’ cemetery.”
The land is located at 1585 East, 4150 North, in Buhl, fourteen miles west of Twin Falls. The new cemetery will serve more than 14,000 veterans, their spouses, and eligible family members located in the Magic Valley.
The current Idaho State Veterans Cemetery is 129 miles away, near Boise.
The VA will develop the new cemetery as part of the National Cemetery Administration Rural Initiative program. The initiative’s main goal is to build small national cemeteries in states without an open national cemetery. Of the 22 million veterans nationwide, 5.3 million live in rural communities. Between fiscal years 2006-2014, there was a seven percent increase in VA-enrollment by veterans who live in rural areas, according to a VA news release.
The VA will construct in-ground casket and cremation burial sites, above-ground columbarium niches, a memorial wall, flagpoles, a memorial walkway, roads and other infrastructure, the release stated.
Burial in a VA national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces and veterans who have met minimum active-duty service requirements, and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. Members of the reserve components of the armed forces who die while on active duty, while on training duty, or are eligible for retired pay, or were called to active duty and served the full term of service, may also be eligible for burial, according to the news release.
Their spouse, widow or widower, minor children and, under certain conditions, unmarried adult children with disabilities, may also be eligible for burial. Eligible spouses and children may be buried even if they predecease the Veteran.
The VA provides the gravesite, grave liner, opening and closing of the grave, government headstone or marker, U.S. burial flag, Presidential Memorial Certificate and perpetual care of the gravesite at no cost to the family.
The VA operates 135 national cemeteries and 33 soldiers’ lots and monument sites in 40 states and Puerto Rico. More than 4 million Americans, including Veterans of every war and conflict, are buried in VA’s national cemeteries.