Augusta City leaders are backing former Augusta Mayor, Bob Young on his initiative to start a State Veteran Cemetery.
Almost 20 years in the pursuit for approval, but Young is gathering support from surrounding counties.
“We’re talking about a facility similar to Arlington, which is what everyone is familiar with,” says Young.
Taking decades of approval, this facility will not be nationally owned by the Veteran’s Association but it will be recognized statewide through tax dollars.
“They get a state program now, so they get out of the business of owning and managing cemeteries,” says Young, “and they turn it over to state governments. They’ll give you a grant to build the cemetery and then you take over the operation of it.”
The nearest veteran cemetery is in Fort Jackson which is over 70 miles away.
“The VA did research on this, and their research showed that veterans like to be buried with other veterans,” says Young.
This state cemetery will allow for families to be buried here too.
“The key is a veteran can be buried there along with the veterans spouse and eligible children at no cost to the veteran,” says Young.
The cemetery could could about $500,000 a year. So, even with the governor trying to do budget cuts, Young says this won’t be a cost until the future.
“The governor has asked everybody to cut and i think he is doing some across the board cutting of about 5%,” says Young, “but we are not adding anything to the state budget now, or next year or the year after. I mean we are talking several years down the road before this has any impact on the state budget.”
There are more than 60,000 veterans in the CSRA, meaning many be interested in reserving a plot. With each burial, the VA will provide the state with a payment, but to include all of the benefits, there is power in numbers.
“I have reached out to chairman Doug Duncan. He told me Columbia County is going to pass a resolution supporting the state cemetery,” says Young.
In an effort to get a State Veteran Cemetery in Augusta, Young says he trying to gather support from all the counties in the CSRA. Columbia County will be voting on this resolution at its next commission meeting, which is November 5th at 6:00 PM.