MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. (WJBF) – A veterans cemetery in Augusta is on the horizon.
“Let’s get busy and let’s build a cemetery,” said cemetery sponsor Bob Young.
Several Augusta area leaders and veterans hit the road Wednesday to take a tour at one of Georgia’s two veteran cemeteries, the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Milledgeville. The cemetery in Augusta would look very similar.
“It gives them the honor and the respect that is very much needed for those veterans,” said Disabled Veterans of America Chapter 18 Commander Alvin Terrell.
Many were impressed during the Milledgeville visit.
“We learned that the cemetery in Augusta could be a reality in three to four years. We know the steps that have to be taken and we know what’s going to have to happen in the community as we build toward the development of the state veteran cemetery,” said Young.
The pre-application for a grant to fund the veterans cemetery in Augusta is due July 1.
Young explained, “Then it’s up to the VA to determine where Augusta is on the priority list. It’s something that could be approved in year, two years, three years. It depends on the VA. Number one, who else is looking for money for this. And the number two, how much money is in the pot.”
“They look at the application and see there’s land available. There’s initial state funding available and they will then prioritize the needs for that cemetery, as the need for a cemetery in the Augusta area,” said Department of Veterans Service Director of Health and Memorials division Russell Feagin
More than $1 million is secured in Georgia’s budget to get the ball rolling on Augusta’s veterans cemetery. Developers estimate it’s going to take about $10 million to build and are looking at a site behind the Gracewood hospital. An access road off of Tobacco Road is being discussed and agencies are working to draw the exact boundaries, according to Young.
He said, “We’ve also discussed informally perhaps the creation of a small veterans park near the cemetery for families that are visiting to have a place to picnic. The veteran organizations to have a place to put up memorials of units to units and members.”
“The veterans cemetery is something that’s long needed so that the veteran’s loved ones do not have to travel long distances to lay their loved ones to rest,” said Terrell.
Feagin added, “When they develop the cemetery, they do it in 10-year increments so initial development depends on that. Rough estimate is a thousand graves per acre. If you’re actually using everything so given that, given the space of the cemetery, we probably estimate 100,000 burials or better in the Augusta cemetery.”