110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Al Everson
posted Jun 25, 2014 - 5:06:56pm
Local veterans will soon have another choice for their final earthly resting place.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is developing a new national cemetery just inside northern Brevard County, not far from the Volusia County line.
In 2012, the VA purchased 318 acres along U.S. Highway 1 in Scottsmoor for $2.1 million. The land will become Cape Canaveral National Cemetery, and construction will begin in the coming months.
The first burials there may take place as early as the summer of 2015, according to Jo Schuda, a VA spokeswoman.
"It could serve more than 163,000 eligible veterans, spouses, and eligible dependents," Schuda said. "The initial phase will provide space for 17,000 grave sites."
Cape Canaveral National Cemetery is supposed to meet the burial needs of East Central Florida's veterans for at least 100 years, the VA said.
Development-cost estimates are not currently available. As well as building a road to the property and to various parts of the cemetery, the VA will pay for construction of a public-information center, complete with an electronic grave-site locator and restrooms; an administration building; a maintenance building; a flagpole; walkways; and a memorial wall.
Cape Canaveral National Cemetery is one of two veterans burial grounds in the making in Florida. The VA is also developing 250 acres along U.S. Highway 27 near Tallahassee for a national cemetery.
Three other national cemeteries have been established in Florida within the past seven years: South Florida National Cemetery, Jacksonville National Cemetery, and Sarasota National Cemetery.
Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell opened in 1988, and it is now one of the busiest veterans cemeteries in the U.S., because Florida is home to many aging veterans.
Two other burial grounds for veterans in Florida have been closed because all of their available spaces are taken: Bay Pines National Cemetery in St. Petersburg stopped traditional burials in 1989, but accepts cremation remains; Saint Augustine National Cemetery, which opened in 1881, ceased traditional burials in 1997.
Burial in a national cemetery is a benefit accorded to all U.S. veterans discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, who met minimum active-duty requirements. Reservists who meet the active-duty requirements may also qualify.
A veteran's spouse, minor children and unmarried adult children with disabilities may also be buried beside the eligible veteran.
The VA pays for the burial space, the opening and closing of the grave, the memorial stone, the burial flag, and a presidential certificate honoring the veteran for his or her service. The VA also provides, at no cost to the family, perpetual care of the grave-site.
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