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Construction to Begin on Great Lakes National Cemetery

September 18, 2004

Fulfilling a commitment to Michigan veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has awarded a $8.7 million contract to a local small business to begin work on the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Oakland County, Mich.

"As promised, we're moving forward to meet the burial needs of Detroit-area veterans and their families well into the future," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi.

Edge Construction of Southfield, Mich., a small business construction company, received the contract to begin work on the new national cemetery, which is 45 miles northwest of Detroit.

When the first phase of construction is completed, the 50-acre site will contain 6,500 full-casket gravesites, consisting of 5,200 pre-placed crypts and 1,300 traditional full casket gravesites, plus a 1,768 unit columbarium and 1,450 sites for in-ground cremated remains.

The new cemetery will also include temporary administration and maintenance offices (to be replaced by a permanent structure in the second construction phase), two committal service shelters, a public information center with electronic gravesite locator and public restrooms, a cemetery entrance area, flag assembly area, memorial walkway and infrastructure elements including roadways, landscaping, utilities and irrigation.

Construction is estimated to begin in a few weeks and burials are expected to begin in mid-2005 in a burial area within the construction area. This option allows for burials to begin during construction of the cemetery.

The second phase of the construction project, planned to begin in 2007, will replace the temporary offices with permanent structures and prepare for 10 additional years worth of gravesites.

Veterans with a discharge other than dishonorable, their spouses and dependent children are eligible for burial in a national cemetery. Other burial benefits for eligible veterans include a burial flag, Presidential Memorial Certificate and a government headstone or marker - even if they are not buried in a national cemetery.

In the midst of the largest expansion since the Civil War, VA operates 120 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico, 33 soldiers' lots and monument sites. More than three million Americans - including veterans of every war and conflict, from the Revolutionary War to the current war in Iraq - are buried in VA's national cemeteries. VA also provides grants to states to build new or expand existing state veterans' cemeteries to complement national cemeteries.

Information on the Great Lakes National Cemetery is available by calling (810) 695-2007.

Source: Veterans Affairs, National Cemetery Administration

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