Baucus, Tester ‘clear the logjam’ for new veterans’ cemetery

$3.25 million cemetery will be located in Missoula

(MISSOULA, Mont.) – After years of delay the U.S. Veterans Administration has finally given a green light to plans for Montana's first federal veterans' cemetery, Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester announced today.

The VA will provide the State of Montana with $3.25 million for the Western Montana State Veterans' Cemetery, which will be located in Missoula.

"Jon and I are thrilled that the Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery will soon be a reality," Baucus said. "Our brave veterans should be honored for dedicating their lives to serving our country. They fought to protect the freedoms we enjoy every day as Montanans and Americans. That's why I worked to secure funding for this cemetery. This is good news for Western Montana and all our Montana veterans."

Tester, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, toured the site of the cemetery today with Montana Veterans Affairs Administrator Joe Foster and several other advocates of the project.

"I'm honored to have put funding for this cemetery back on track," Tester said.  "Getting it done takes putting politics aside to deliver real results for Montanans. It will provide a peaceful final resting place to Montanans who have served their country so honorably."

The Veterans Administration approved the funding this week, in response to a recent letter Tester sent to VA Secretary Jim Nicholson.  Tester also spoke to Nicholson in person about the project's holdup.

"Talking directly to the VA cleared the logjam," Foster said. "Our senators' personal effort on behalf of our Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery was instrumental to energizing the project's approval."

The State of Montana has already spent $350,000 on plans and impact studies for the cemetery.

Bidding for construction on the new cemetery is scheduled to begin this summer.