FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Governor Steve Beshear announced Friday that the National Cemetery Administration plans to award a $6 million grant in Fiscal Year 2016 for the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery South East in Leslie County.
“I am happy to announce that the National Cemetery Administration has approved this construction grant for us to build another veterans cemetery,” said Gov. Beshear. “We remember the brave men and women who have served our country in the armed forces, and we are also grateful for the hard work of the legislature and the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs (KDVA) for locating this property and obtaining the federal grant for this cemetery.”
The final grant award will be made after KDVA completes the design phase of the project early next year.
“Providing a secure, dignified resting place for our Kentucky service members is one of our sacred duties to veterans,” said KDVA Commissioner Heather French Henry. “This grant allows us to ensure that they are always within reach of their loved ones.”
“I am so proud and thankful that the VA cemetery is finally becoming a reality,” said Leslie County Judge-Executive Jimmy Sizemore. “For many years, federal, state and local officials have worked hard to make this happen. I appreciate the efforts of everyone involved.”
Gov. Beshear’s administration has worked hard to show support and appreciation for veterans and military families, in ways large and small.
For example, Gov. Beshear, state and federal officials this year announced the launch of telemental health services out of the Joseph “Eddie” Ballard Western Kentucky Veterans Center in Hanson, part of an effort to expand mental health services to veterans in western Kentucky. KDVA operates three state veterans nursing homes and is in the process of building a fourth, in Radcliff. Construction began in July 2013; the facility is expected to open in 2016.
Kentucky is celebrating 2015 as the “Year of the Woman Veteran,” supported by a statewide conference, public outreach and the hiring of a women veterans coordinator. Gov. Beshear proclaimed March 30, 2015, as Vietnam Veterans’ Day in Kentucky, as part of Kentucky’s partnership in the 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemoration. A July public exhibit of the American Veterans Traveling Tribute wall at the Kentucky Horse Park was sponsored by KDVA, through a grant from the Kentucky Veterans Program Trust Fund.
In September 2014, veterans, family and friends commemorated that anniversary in a ceremony at the Kentucky Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Frankfort.
Kentucky now has an “I Support Veterans” license plate, gives veterans preference for hiring in state government and placed a plaque in the Capitol Rotunda to honor Medal of Honor recipients from the Commonwealth. KDVA has partnered with the Transportation Cabinet to establish “VetConnect,” a vital service that helps veterans get to medical appointments. And the Kentucky Veterans Program Trust Fund Board funded a veteran entrepreneurship program at the University of Louisvlle.
KDVA also co-sponsored veteran job fairs with the “Hiring our Heroes” U.S. Chamber of Commerce campaign. The state veterans agency also recently partnered with the federal VA to establish a seamless, electronic claims system that expedites the benefits claims process.
The state’s fifth cemetery will serve veterans and their families from southeastern Kentucky, in keeping with a federal goal of ensuring that a national or state veterans cemetery is no farther than 75 miles from veterans’ families.
The Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs will begin construction on the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery South East (KVCSE) in 2016. KVCSE will be located on about 40 acres on Kentucky Highway 118 just north of Hyden in Leslie County.
Construction will include an entry gate, administration building of approximately 2,600 square feet, maintenance building with service area, committal shelter, and a columbarium. Also, there will be appropriate parking and assembly area, road network, walking path and landscaping commensurate with the dignity and honor for a state veteran’s cemetery.
Burial services to veterans and their eligible family members include:
• Furnishing grave or columbarium space
• Opening and closing the grave
• Supplying a suitable marker or headstone
• Providing the interment site with perpetual care
KVCSE is Kentucky’s fifth state veterans cemetery. Kentucky Veterans Cemetery West in Hopkinsville, has interred more than 3,084 veterans and dependents since opening in 2004; Kentucky Veterans Cemetery Central in Radcliff, has interred more than 4,139 veterans and dependents since opening in 2007; Kentucky Veterans Cemetery North in Williamstown, has interred more than 1,099 veterans and dependents since opening in 2008; and Kentucky Veterans Cemetery North East in Greenup County, has interred more than 549 veterans and dependents since opening in 2010.