WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today secured a commitment from U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs (USMA) Matthew Quinn to:
- Add heat and electricity to the planned restroom at the Fargo National Cemetery (FNC).
- The addition comes as part of the $250,000 cemetery enhancement project that is currently under development, which also includes wind walls and storage space, and is expected to be completed later this year.
- Work to add running water and other enhancements as the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) works to acquire additional land to ensure the cemetery has adequate burial space in the future.
- NCA has identified approximately 30 acres for expansion and has initiated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review process to acquire the land.
- Accommodate for facilities being developed by local veterans groups.
Hoeven has been working with the VA and local veterans groups to find a mutually-agreeable solution to provide enhancements at the Fargo National Cemetery. With today’s announcement, the VA has committed to build a restroom that is a permanent building with heat and lights, but they still need to agree to add running water and flushable toilets.
“We continue to press NCA for a restroom facility that not only includes heat and electricity, but also has running water with flushable toilets. At this point, they have committed to us that they will add heat and electricity, and we will continue to push for running water and flushable toilets,” said Senator Hoeven. “We are also working with the VA to expand the cemetery, while the veterans group acquires land to accommodate the facilities they are working to develop. We are committed to continuing our efforts to get a national cemetery that best serves our heroes, their families and volunteers.”
“I am committed to ensuring that Veterans and their families are provided exceptional service at each of our national cemeteries,” said USMA Quinn. “The VA will continue to carry out infrastructure enhancements at Fargo National Cemetery and to make refinements as our rural burial initiative progresses. We will add electricity and heat to the bathroom facility at the cemetery. As we consider the purchase of additional land adjacent to the cemetery, we will explore providing further enhancements such as running water. I am confident that our commitment to continuous improvement will preserve our cemeteries as national shrines befitting Veterans’ service and sacrifice.”
Hoeven began working to advance these priorities after hearing concerns from veteran support groups that expanded facilities were needed to better accommodate veterans, families and volunteers and that the cemetery would run out of space sooner than anticipated. The senator then began working with local stakeholders and veterans groups to identify opportunities for enhancing the cemetery to ensure it can continue serving veterans and their families for years to come. To this end, Hoeven:
- Included language in the Fiscal Year 2021 funding legislation that:
- Required NCA to review the infrastructure at Rural Initiative (RI) cemeteries.
- Encouraged the agency to partner with state, local or private organizations to address needs at RI cemeteries.
- Hosted USMA Quinn in North Dakota in November so he could hear directly from local veteran support groups and to help ensure NCA would work with local stakeholders on addressing these concerns.
- Since then, Hoeven has regularly spoken with USMA Quinn to pass along feedback from local veterans groups and work to address their concerns.
- Continues working through the Senate VA Appropriations Committee to identify ways to better support RI national cemeteries, like FNC, and related projects.