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National Cemetery Administration

Veterans Cemetery Grants Program

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Wreaths Across America - 2009 Indiana Veterans' Memorial Cemetery, Madison, Indiana

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Veterans Cemetery Grants Program was established in 1978 to complement VA’s National Cemetery Administration. The program assists states, territories and federally recognized tribal governments in providing gravesites for Veterans in those areas where VA’s national cemeteries cannot fully satisfy their burial needs. Grants may be used only for the purpose of establishing, expanding or improving Veterans cemeteries that are owned and operated by a state, federally recognized tribal government, or U.S. territory. Aid can be granted only to states, federally recognized tribal government, or U.S. territories. VA cannot provide grants to private organizations, counties, cities or other government agencies.

VA can now provide up to 100 percent of the development cost for an approved project. For establishment of new cemeteries, VA can provide for operating equipment. VA does not provide for acquisition of land. The value of the land cannot be considered as an "allowable cost" under the grant. States, territories and tribal governments are solely responsible for acquisition of the necessary land. Tribal governments cemeteries must be on tribal trust land. Any state, territory, or tribal government ceasing to own or operate a cemetery established, expanded or improved through the use of grant funds, or using the funds for any other purpose than for which the grant was made will be liable for the total refund of all grants made for that cemetery. Federal funds can also be suspended or withdrawn for noncompliance with the terms and conditions of the grant.

Cemeteries established under the grant program must conform to the standards and guidelines pertaining to site selection, planning and construction prescribed by VA. Cemeteries must be operated solely for the burial of service members who die on active duty, veterans, and their eligible spouses and dependent children. Any cemetery assisted by a VA grant must be maintained and operated according to the operational standards and measures of the National Cemetery Administration.

The administration, operation, and maintenance of a VA-supported Veterans cemetery is solely the responsibility of the state, territory or tribal government. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs is authorized to pay a plot or interment allowance (not to exceed $700) to a state, territory or tribal government for expenses incurred by the state, territory or tribal government in the burial of eligible Veterans in a cemetery owned and operated by the state, territory or tribal government if the burial is performed at no cost to the Veteran's next-of-kin. This benefit is administered by the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and the state, territory or tribal government must apply to VBA to receive it.

VA's Veterans Cemetery Grant Program is designed to complement VA's 131 national cemeteries across the country. The Veterans Cemetery Grants Program helps states, federally recognized tribal governments, or U.S. Territories establish new Veterans cemeteries, expand, or improve existing veterans cemeteries. To date, the VA program has helped establish, expand, improve operate and maintain 90 Veterans cemeteries in 45 states and territories including tribal trust lands, Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam, which provided more than 32,000 burials in fiscal year 2013. VA has awarded grants totaling more than $566 million.