Veterans and their families are getting a big salute today from organizations across South Dakota.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations are coming in from a variety of groups including Avera, Sanford, the American Legion and more. The money will help support a proposed state Veterans cemetery in northern Sioux Falls.
That is the beginning of a parade of donations to the state Veterans cemetery endowment fund. Veteran and Dr. Barry Martin with Avera Health says the organization is pledging $250,000 to the fund.
“The men and women who will be interred here in our eyes are champions and heroes because of their service during peacetime or in combat in the vast and diverse missions that they faced,” Martin said.
Sanford Health is also pitching in $50,000 right now. Its Director of Veteran and Military Services says the proposed cemetery means a lot for all Veterans, past and present.
“I can’t say enough how honored we are to continue to provide opportunities not only for those that are living but those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and provide assistance and funding for the cemetery,” Paul Weckman said.
The goal is to raise $3 million in five years. The endowment fund will cover operating costs of the cemetery once it’s built. A pre-application for a roughly $6 million grant has been submitted to the National Cemetery Administration. That money would cover the construction costs of the cemetery.
“The 19,000 members of the American Legion in South Dakota are really proud to present this check for this project. There will probably be more coming. In fact we have a post very near Fort Meade there, the Black Hills National Cemetery, that donated $1,500,” Jim Huls with the South Dakota American Legion said.
A great start for what will be a special place for Veterans and their families in Sioux Falls.
Disabled American Veterans are also presenting a check for $25,000 and even more funding is coming in from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the Military Order of the Purple Heart and Vietnam Vets. South Dakota is one of five states in the country without a state Veterans cemetery.