Tester: Yellowstone Co. Veterans Cemetery another step closer to national recognition

Senator’s designation efforts paying dividends for Montana veterans

(U.S. SENATE) – Yellowstone County Veterans Cemetery is another step closer to becoming a national cemetery, Senator Jon Tester said.

Tester announced that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs is now working with Yellowstone County to establish part of the county’s veterans’ cemetery as a National Veterans Burial Ground.  VA national cemeteries, unlike state-run veterans cemeteries, are operated, maintained, and funded by the VA.   

News that the VA is working with Yellowstone County to recognize the cemetery means that no Congressional legislation is needed to recognize the cemetery as a VA national cemetery. 

“Montana veterans deserve the honor of a final resting place in a VA national cemetery in our state,” Tester said.  “Today’s news is a reflection on the men and women of the Big Sky State who fought for our freedoms and for national recognition of this important cemetery.”

Tester has been working since 2008 to allow the VA’s National Cemetery Administration to expand the national cemetery system to highly rural states.  Under the current population threshold required to establish a VA national cemetery, Montana veterans are denied the honor of a final resting place in a VA national cemetery in their home state.

“Montana veterans deserve a national cemetery of their own,” said Yellowstone County Commissioner Bill Kennedy.  “Jon’s efforts on their behalf are second to none and I know he’ll keep working with us until a national VA cemetery in Yellowstone County is a reality.”

Tester, Montana’s only member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, has made national recognition of the Yellowstone County Veterans Cemetery a major cause.  Earlier this year, he wrote VA Secretary Eric Shinseki on behalf of Yellowstone.  In 2011, he brought Shinseki to Montana to hear from numerous veterans about the issue.

The Yellowstone County Veterans Cemetery, which serves 16,000 veterans, is located along Buffalo Trail Road north of Laurel.