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Future Northern Michigan veterans cemetery gains Senate approval

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate on Thursday approved Sen. Curt VanderWall’s legislation to establish a state military cemetery in Crawford County.

“This is a big step in making Michigan’s veterans cemeteries more accessible to those who have served our nation as members of the armed forces,” said VanderWall, R-Ludington. “While there are a few federal cemeteries located in the southern portion of the state, Michigan is the only state in the Midwest that does not have a single state-owned veterans cemetery and there are no burial grounds dedicated to veterans north of the I-69/96 corridor. It is the goal of the federal Department of Veterans Affairs that veterans have reasonable access to a military cemetery within a 75-mile radius that means we still have a lot of room to work with.”

Senate Bill 971 would create a veterans cemetery fund within the Department of Treasury and authorize a land purchase to formally establish a state military cemetery in Crawford County. The project is anticipated to cost between $10 and $15 million to plan and construct the cemetery and will be funded with federal dollars. House Bill 5783, the fiscal year 2023 omnibus budget approved Friday includes $1.5 million from the state’s general fund — to be reimbursed by the federal government — to initiate the project.

“More and more veterans are passing away as our population ages; they should have access to a veterans cemetery near their families that will allow them to be formally honored for their service. Establishing a veterans cemetery that is centrally located in Northern Michigan will make this possible for more men and women who have answered the call of duty in our nation’s military,” VanderWall said.