Created: 04/15/2014 6:16 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4
New Mexico is finally in line for four new veterans cemeteries in far-flung corners of the state. Here’s the deal. We have two national cemeteries already. One of them is filling up rapidly and the other is a long way from just about everywhere but Silver City. Just about everybody agrees we need more, especiallly veterans and their families.
The big one is in Santa Fe it’s just about fiull to capacity. The other one is way down near Silver City at Fort Bayard and it’s smaller. The U.S. Veterans Administration wants states to run their own veterans cemeteries, but they’ll help set them up. Gov. Susana Martinez announced down payments on four new ones Tuesday afternoon.
“We are a very large state and no one should have to drive more than 75 miles to visit their loved ones,” Martinez said at a gathering at the Veterans Memorial in Albuquerque’s Southeast Heights. “To all of the veterans and current servicer members here today, thank you for your service. Thank you every day for your sacrifice.”
The proposed cemeteries are in Carlsbad, Fort Stanton, Gallup and Angel Fire, which is already home to the nation’s first Vietnam veterans’ memorial.
“New Mexico is really large geographically,” said Vietnam veteran Chuck Howe. “We’ve got veterans scattered all over the state and the National Cemetery in Santa Fe is almost full so I’m totally for it.”
“I understand that one is filled,” said World War Two veteran Homer Piper. “I don’t know when I’m going to go, but they were going to have to find me someplace up there, so I’m happy that they have them down here.”
Well, they don’t have them yet, exactly. The state has $600,000 for down payments. If the feds approve, they’ll pay the rest – about 90 percent of the total price, and then the state will manage and maintain the new cemeteries. Gov. Martinez said New Mexico will be in line for even more veterans cemeteries after the first four are established.