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Vets Views: Veterans will get rural burial grounds in the Midwest

Greg Remus

One of my responsibilities is to assist veterans in applying for burial benefits. Needless to say most families ask about where the nearest veterans' cemeteries are located. And it is always a little awkward to tell them their choices are Camp Ripley near Little Falls or Fort Snelling in St Paul.

This is changing.

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it is moving forward with a plan to provide burial services for Veterans in rural areas where there are no available VA national cemeteries, state Veterans cemeteries or tribal Veterans cemeteries.

Under the Rural Initiative plan, the VA will build small National Veterans Burial Grounds within existing public or private cemeteries in rural areas. The VA plans to open eight National Veterans Burial Grounds that will serve Veterans, one will be located in Fargo.

The others will be located at Rhinelander, Wis.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; Laurel, Mont.; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Cedar City, Utah; Calais, Maine; and Elko, Nev.

Each of the National Veterans Burial Grounds will be a small VA-managed section of three to five acres within an existing public or private cemetery.

VA will provide a full range of burial options, control the operation and maintenance and these sections will be held to the same "national shrine" standards as VA-run national cemeteries.

Currently the VA operates 131 national cemeteries in 39 states and Puerto Rico. Nearly four million Americans, including Veterans of every war and conflict -- from the Revolutionary War to the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan -- are buried in VA's national cemeteries.

Veterans with a discharge issued under conditions other than dishonorable, their spouses and eligible dependent children can be buried in a VA national cemetery.

A death in the family often finds the survivors ill-prepared to cope with the loss. Please do not hesitate to contact this office if you have questions relating to a veteran.

On another note, please help get the word out about the "credit for military service in a combat zone." If you know of a soldier or veteran from Minnesota who served in a combat zone or hazardous duty area during 2008, they are eligible for a refundable tax credit. This tax credit expires on October 15, 2012, and apparently thousands of soldiers and veterans who qualify have not yet taken advantage of this benefit.

This benefit is part of a tax credit that was enacted in 2006, the Minnesota Department of Revenue will pay $59 per month for serving in a combat zone or hazardous duty area during 2008 (the credit extends beyond 2008, but the credit that applies to 2008 is the part that will expire in October). To be eligible, individuals must have served in a combat zone or hazardous duty area at some point in 2008, and Minnesota must have been his or her home state at the time. For more information, call (651) 556-4710 or email

The application is form M-99, Credit for Military Service in a Combat Zone.

As always the purpose of the Hubbard County Veteran Service Office is to provide assistance and support to eligible veterans, their dependents and survivors in obtaining benefits through the State and Federal Departments of Veterans Affairs, and to provide benefit counseling, claims service, referral and assistance in a variety of other programs. You can contact me at the Hubbard County Veteran Service Office at 201 Fair Ave, Park Rapids, 732-3561.