Hoeven Working to Ensure Fargo National Cemetery, ND Veterans Cemetery Will Continue to Effectively Serve Veterans & Their Families
Senator Hosts USMA Quinn in North Dakota, Meets with NDNG, State, Local & Veterans Group Leaders
FARGO, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today held meetings with VA Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs (USMA) Matthew Quinn in North Dakota, where the senator continued his efforts to:
- Secure additional facilities at the Fargo National Cemetery (FNC) to ensure it better serves veterans and their families.
- Open eligibility for burial in state veterans cemeteries to all members of the Reserve and Guard components, as well as certain family members, without jeopardizing the cemeteries’ access to federal grants.
To this end, Hoeven and Quinn reviewed both the national and state veterans cemeteries in Fargo and Bismarck, respectively, and met with North Dakota National Guard (NDNG) Adjutant General Alan Dohrmann, Congressman Kelly Armstrong, local veterans support groups and other federal, state, local and NDNG officials.
“We’re working to support both the Fargo National Cemetery and the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery in Bismarck, as they give servicemembers more options to be laid to rest with honor and make it easier for loved ones to visit and pay their respects,” Hoeven said. “We appreciate USMA Quinn for accepting our invitation to North Dakota. These meetings give our veterans groups the opportunity to provide input on the future of these cemeteries, while also enabling Quinn to gain firsthand knowledge of the challenges we face. That will help make the federal government a good partner as we work to ensure these cemeteries can continue to effectively serve veterans, their families and the surrounding communities.”
Improving FNC’s Facilities
As a member of the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (VA) Appropriations Committee, Hoeven has worked to ensure strong funding for the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) and its Rural Initiative (RI), under which the FNC was established in 2019. The senator has since been working with local veterans groups and the NCA to improve the cemeteries’ facilities, having passed the following measures as part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 appropriations legislation:
- A provision requiring the NCA to review the infrastructure at RI cemeteries.
- This review indicated that all eight RI cemeteries needed additional facilities to properly serve veterans, families and the local community.
- Language encouraging the NCA to partner with state, local or private organizations to address needs at RI cemeteries and improve cemetery operations and committal services.
Today’s visit and discussion come as part of Hoeven’s ongoing efforts to facilitate communication between NCA and the local community to ensure any permanent enhancements to the FNC work for veterans and their families.
Opening State Veterans Cemetery Eligibility
Currently, if a cemetery receives federal grant funding, then only certain servicemembers who meet national eligibility standards are allowed to be buried there. This requirement has recently led to uncertainty regarding whether the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery may be eligible for certain grants.
Accordingly, Hoeven helped introduce, along with Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), the Burial Equity for Guards and Reserves Act, bipartisan legislation that would make eligible for burial in state veterans’ cemeteries all members of the Reserve Component, so long as their service was terminated under honorable conditions, as well as certain family members. Specifically, this bill would prohibit the VA from conditioning grants on a cemetery’s compliance with existing eligibility criteria for burial.
The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee recently held a hearing to consider Hoeven and Shaheen’s legislation, with the committee members indicating their intention to approve the bill. The legislation also received approval from the House VA Committee earlier this month.
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