Friday, October 28, 2005

VA hastens veterans cemetery construction near Dixon

VA hastens veterans cemetery construction

By Ian Thompson

- Spring weather permitting, the first burials in the fast-tracked portion of the proposed veterans cemetery near Dixon could happen by June 2006, federal officials told veterans Wednesday.

Under pressure by aging Northern California veterans and their families, the VA is fast-tracking construction of a 14-arce portion of their planned 561-acre national cemetery, said Cliff Schem, the VA's regional director for cemeteries.

Families of many Northern California veterans who have died are keeping their remains in anticipation of permanent burial at the Dixon cemetery.

The VA will solicit for bids on the fast-tracked portion of the cemetery within two weeks. Work will start as early as possible in 2006, local veterans learned.

The VA plans to open an office by Christmas with people to handle arrangements for those wanting to be buried in the cemetery. The VA planned to open the office in Sacramento, but local veterans suggested the agency locate the office in the VA facilities next to David Grant Medical Center on Travis Air Force Base.

The VA bought the land for a cemetery just outside of Dixon in July 2004 because of the large number of veterans living in the area and the fact the nearest veterans cemetery, in the Presidio in San Francisco, is closed to new burials.

The closest cemetery with space still available is 100 miles away in Gustine.

As many as 2,400 people could end up buried in the cemetery every year once it's finished, officials told a veterans committee chaired by Solano County Supervisor Mike Reagan.

Veterans also asked if the VA has decided what to name the cemetery. They want it to be named the Solano National Cemetery but fear other veterans groups and local governments in the Sacramento Valley area might push for a Sacramento area name, they said.

The VA Director has made no decision on a name, Schem said.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

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