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

Senator pushed VA Secretary for designation earlier this year

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today announced that the Yellowstone County Veterans Cemetery is one step closer to being designated as a national cemetery.

Tester said that the President’s latest budget proposal allows the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Cemetery Administration to purchase land from rural cemeteries in eight states.  Under this initiative, the purchased land would receive National Cemetery status and be operated and maintained by the VA.  In Montana, the Yellowstone County Veterans Cemetery would receive this honor, something Tester and local veterans have fought for since the cemetery opened.

“Montana veterans deserve the honor of a final resting place in a VA national cemetery in our state,” Tester said.  “Today’s announcement 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.”

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.  VA national cemeteries, unlike state veterans cemeteries, are operated, maintained, and funded by the VA.   

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.  Under the plan, the National Cemetery Administration would work with cemetery representatives to transfer five acres of the property to the VA. 

Tester’s letter to Shinseki is available HERE.