AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Plans are well underway to construct Georgia’s third and largest veteran cemetery in Augusta.
The idea was first proposed in 2000.
“It’s well overdue that we do this to provide a final resting place for those men and women that have served, also [for] their families.” project co-chair, Don Clark said.
Augusta is home to more than 70 thousand veterans. The nearest veteran cemetery is in Milledgeville.
“We have a large population,” Commissioner Dennis Williams said. “It will be very beneficial to our community.”
“But there’s no cost to the families at all,” Clark said. “So this is a benefit that comes with your service. And this is also a benefit to even our homeless veterans, many of which are buried in veteran cemeteries.”
Clark, who co-chairs the project with former Augusta Mayor Bob Young, says there are many layers to this $10 million project.
The state has agreed to provide 10 percent ($1 million) of the money and to demolish the dilapidated buildings on the property. The city of Augusta is widening the entrance road.
“The city of Augusta has championed this to keep this on the rails because they understand the benefits of it,” Clark said.
The state has provided 219 acres of land for the cemetery, which is located behind East Central Regional Hospital at Gracewood. The hospital will be unaffected and continue business as usual.
The project is under review for a federal grant through the Department of Veteran Affairs. They expect to hear back around October.
“Then it’ll take probably three to four years from identifying what amount of funding, breaking ground, and completion of the cemetery,” Clark said.
There has been significant bipartisan support behind the veteran cemetery.
“We are a military town. The veteran cemetery, to honor the military and their families, is long overdue. Now it is quickly becoming a reality,” said Commissioner John Clarke in a statement to WJBF.
Commissioner Clarke says he supports the project 100 percent, and other commissioners agree.
“This will be a benefit to the veterans that stay here in our community, so it will be good for everybody overall,” Commissioner Williams said.