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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 3, 2010

SCHUMER ANNOUNCES DEPARTMENT OF VETS AFFAIRS TO BUILD NEW VETS CEMETERY IN WESTERN NEW YORK - WILL BE IN ERIE, NIAGARA, GENESSE OR WYOMING COUNTY TO SERVE AREA'S LARGE VETS COMMUNITY


VA Plans to Acquire Land Within 25 Miles of I-90/I-290 Interchange for New Cemetery Creating a Nearby Final Resting Place for Vets from Buffalo to Rochester and Beyond; Current Cemetery is Far Away in Bath

Last Year, Schumer Pushed VA to Open New Vets Cemetery - Said Feds Were Shortchanging WNY Heroes; Cemetery Will be in Erie, Niagara, Genesee or Wyoming County

Schumer: This Is Yet Another Hard Fought Victory For WNY's Vets, Who Have Already Dedicated So Much And Won So Many Battles For Their Nation

After a long effort by the region’s large veterans community, today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has begun the process of building a critically needed veterans cemetery in Western New York.  Currently the families of Western New York veterans have to travel all the way to Bath, NY to visit their deceased loved ones.  This has created unnecessary hardship for those who want their family members to be buried with the full honors they deserve.  Last year, Schumer called on the VA to address this deficiency, and they have now heeded his call, and will begin construction of a cemetery within 25 miles of the   I-90/I-290 interchange.

For many years local veterans have been working towards a national cemetery, and Schumer has worked with them to achieve their goal.  A National Veteran’s Cemetery will allow Western New York veterans and their families to receive full benefits without having to travel to all the way to Bath, NY.  These benefits include opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family.  The current schedule has a new cemetery partially operational by 2013.

“Western New York is a very patriotic place with a large concentration of aging veterans, and it is high time we built a resting place, right here, for those veterans, yet we have not been able to convince multiple administrations of this fact,” said Schumer.  “This is yet another hard fought victory for WNY’s veterans, who have already dedicated so much and won so many battles for their nation. Thankfully that fight is almost at an end.  After everything the veterans of Western New York have done for us, it is imperative that they have a local resting place where they can receive the eternal honors they deserve.”

 There are currently six National Veterans Cemeteries in New York State, but the facility in Bath is the only one in all of Central New York, Western New York, the Southern Tier and the Rochester Finger Lakes Region.  Current VA regulations require that  there be more than 170,000 veterans more than 75 miles away from the closest National Cemetery for another one to be created.  In Western New York alone there are approximately 125,000 veterans. Add in the Rochester area, which is also more than 75 miles away from Bath, and you have more than 175,000 veterans, more than enough for the area to qualify for an additional National Cemetery, noted Schumer.

The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) , part of the Veteran’s Administration, recently evaluated state cemetery data which indicates that there is a gap between the size of population centers served by a national cemetery (≥170,000) and state cemeteries (≤82,000). Under current policy, Veterans in locations within that population gap will continue to be unserved.  In the wake of that study, the VA has recommended that new national cemeteries be established in areas where the unserved Veteran population falls. Under this policy new national cemeteries would be established in the Melbourne/Daytona, FL area; Omaha, NE; Buffalo/Rochester, NY; and the Tallahassee, FL area. 

Schumer has long made the case that a new veterans cemetery is critically needed in Western New York.  Erie County has the highest concentration of veterans in Upstate New York, and the veterans’ population is of an advanced age.  Forty five percent of New York veterans are more than 70 years old.  Now is the time to start planning for the future to ensure that our veterans are treated with the honor they deserve.  Schumer has heard from local veterans groups that veterans in Western New York desperately want to be buried in a national shrine, but don’t want to force their families to travel long distances, potentially at great hardship to do so. 

 The breakdown of Veterans in the Region is as follows:

 County

Total Veterans

Cattaraugus

8,220

Chautauqua

12,040

Erie

74,270

Genesee

5,210

Niagara

18,390

Orleans

3,520

Wyoming

3,630

   

Livingston

5,466

Monroe

49,359

Regional total

180,105

 

 Today, more than 24 million veterans and Reservists and National Guard members with 20 years qualifying service have earned the honor of burial in a National Cemetery. Veterans with discharges other than dishonorable, their spouses and dependent children may be eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery. Those who die on active duty may also be buried in a national cemetery.

 

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