National Cemetery Administration
VA Dedicates Snake River Canyon National Cemetery in Idaho
August 12, 2020
WASHINGTON — In a brief ceremony today, VA Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Randy Reeves dedicated a new national cemetery in rural Buhl, Idaho. It is the first national cemetery in the state.
"This beautiful new cemetery, located so close to the scenic grandeur of the Snake River Canyon, is a fitting tribute that honors the memory of our Veterans here in Southeast Idaho," said Reeves. "May it serve as a place of peaceful reflection for our Veterans and their families for all time."
Reeves unveiled the dedication plaque as part of a small delegation of dignitaries that included Army Maj. Gen. Michael Garshak, the Adjutant General of the Idaho National Guard, and Suzanne Hawkins, mayor of Twin Falls. Due to concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the number of attendees was limited to fewer than two dozen, with participants wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. Photos and video of the dedication can be found on the National Cemetery Administration's Facebook site, https://www.facebook.com/NationalCemeteries.
The 8-acre cemetery is expected to serve a population of more than 15,000 Veterans, their spouses and eligible family members within a 75-mile radius of Twin Falls. The first interments at the new cemetery were conducted in March 2020.
Construction on the first phase of the cemetery is now complete, offering more than 900 casket and cremation spaces to accommodate burials for the next 10 years. The cemetery can provide casket burials, in-ground cremation burials, columbarium niches for cremation burials, and a memorial wall. Subsequent phases of construction will increase this capacity.
Snake River Canyon National Cemetery is the third to open under the VA's Rural Initiative program, which provides burial access for Veterans not currently served by a national cemetery within the state or VA grant-funded state cemetery. VA dedicated its first Rural Initiative cemetery, Yellowstone National Cemetery in Montana, in May 2014, and its second, Fargo National Cemetery in North Dakota, in September 2019. VA will dedicate additional rural cemeteries this year in Wisconsin, Maine, and Wyoming with cemeteries in Nevada and Utah soon thereafter.
Burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces who have met a minimum active duty service requirement and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. A Veteran's spouse, widow or widower, minor dependent children, and under certain conditions, unmarried adult children with disabilities may also be eligible for burial. Eligible spouses and children may be buried even if they predecease the Veteran. Members of the reserve components of the armed forces who die while on active duty or who die while on training duty, or were eligible for retired pay, may also be eligible for burial.
VA operates 144 national cemeteries and 33 soldiers' lots and monuments sites in 42 states and Puerto Rico. More than 4 million Americans, including Veterans of every U.S. war and conflict, are buried in VA's national cemeteries. VA also provides funding to establish, expand, improve and maintain 116 Veterans cemeteries across the nation, including tribal trust lands, Guam, and Saipan. For Veterans not buried in a VA national cemetery, VA provides headstones, markers, or medallions for placement in private cemeteries.
Margaret Ayres, Acting Director of Willamette National Cemetery in Oregon, will oversee Snake River Canyon National Cemetery. For more information about Snake River Canyon National Cemetery, call 503-273-5250. For information on VA burial benefits, or to apply for burial benefits in advance of need, visit www.cem.va.gov or call (800) 535-1117.