Veterans cemetery planned in Jennings - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Veterans cemetery planned in Jennings

JENNINGS, LA (KPLC) -

One way America honors its veterans is by offering them a final resting place in a veterans cemetery. Yet there is not one in Southwest Louisiana. But efforts are underway to locate a veterans cemetery in Jennings.

The Veterans Home in Jennings is considered one of the best, and there are plans to have a veterans cemetery on vacant land next to it. Burial in a veterans cemetery, such as these in other areas of the state, is one way to extend dignity and respect to those like Walter Butler who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.

"It's a privilege that the American people have given us, a place to be buried. It's quiet and it's peaceful and it has dignity that is not always found in other places," said Butler, a resident at the home.

Veterans and their spouses are entitled to be placed in a veterans cemetery at no cost. Veterans Affairs Commissioner Tom Green says the new cemetery is greatly needed, and appealing to veterans and their families.

"There are very long distances to a lot of the other cemeteries. If you live here, the closest one would be Fort Polk," said Green. "As Lincoln had proposed, they deserve burial in a sacred place."

He says there is concern about state budget cuts that could affect existing cemeteries, which at worst could create a liability for Louisiana if the state reneges on promises to operate and maintain.

"There are requirements by the federal government that the state pay back monies. That money can be as high as $10 million."

Green, himself a veteran, says it's time for a veterans cemetery in Southwest Louisiana, and that thousands agree.

"We will have columbariums. We will have the availability of in-ground burials," he said.

If things go smoothly, Green says it will still take three or four years for the cemetery to open. 

Some of the issues that must still be decided include design of the cemetery and road access.

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