Hoeven: North Dakota Has Worked to Provide the Finest State Veterans Cemetery in the Nation

Senator Commemorates NDVC’s 30th Anniversary

MANDAN, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Military Construction Appropriations Committee, today joined federal, state and North Dakota National Guard (NDNG) officials in commemorating the 30th anniversary of the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery (NDVC). The senator outlined the important role of the NDVC in helping ensure the state’s veterans receive the recognition and honor they have earned, and discussed efforts to enhance the cemetery since he first came into office as governor in 2000, eight years after the cemetery was established. Among other efforts, this includes:

  • A more than $3 million Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) grant the cemetery received in 2005 to expand the visitation center, chapel and maintenance building and make improvements to roads, curbs, gutters, sidewalks and sprinkler systems.
  • Doubling the size of the cemetery in 2015, when the NDNG purchased 35 acres from the North Dakota Parks Department, utilizing funding from the state legislature and the NDVC foundation.
  • Ongoing work to add a new columbarium, providing an additional burial option for veterans.
    • Hoeven has worked to ensure the cemetery remains eligible for VA grants that are needed to make improvements like the columbarium.
    • To this end, the senator, along with Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), introduced and worked to pass the Burial Equity for Guard and Reserves Act.

“North Dakota has a rich tradition of military service, and laying our veterans to rest with honor is one important way that we can ensure their courage and sacrifices are properly remembered,” said Hoeven. “That’s why we’ve worked hard to enhance this cemetery and have supported the NDNG in making this the finest state veterans cemetery in the nation. VA grants have played an important part in these efforts, and the legislation we passed earlier this year ensures the NDVC can continue to access these important funds while allowing our Guard and Reserve members, who protect this nation right alongside their active duty counterparts, to be interred at state veterans cemeteries.”  

Burial Equity for Guard and Reserves Act  

The bipartisan, bicameral Burial Equity for Guard and Reserves Act, which was signed into law earlier this year, makes members of the National Guard and Reserve Component, as well as certain family members, eligible for burial in state veterans cemeteries without those cemeteries losing access to federal grants. Among other efforts, Hoeven worked to secure support for the bill while hosting Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs (USMA) Matthew Quinn in North Dakota last year. Quinn again joined Hoeven at the NDVC today to mark the cemetery’s anniversary.

Previously, if a cemetery received federal grant funding, then only certain servicemembers who met national eligibility standards were allowed to be buried there. This requirement led to uncertainty regarding whether the NDVC was eligible for certain grants. The legislation introduced by Hoeven, Shaheen, Cramer and Hassan addressed this issue by prohibiting the VA from conditioning grants on a cemetery’s compliance with existing eligibility criteria for burial.