The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced a new national cemetery in Laramie County, Wyoming.
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie unveiled the dedication plaque for Cheyenne National Cemetery, the first national cemetery in the state, on October 8, 2020.
"Together, all of you, and so many others, have enabled this ground to serve as a national shrine dedicated to the memories of the men and women to whom we all owe a great debt," said Wilkie. "Wyoming has been blessed with an abundance of such men and women — whose collective courage and commitment allow us to flourish as a nation and as a people united."
In January 2017, VA purchased the land located southeast of the Department of Agriculture Research Center at 8611 Hildreth Rd for $64,099.
The first phase of construction allows for more than 1600 burials, including caskets, the in-ground burial of urns, above-ground space for urns, and a memorial wall. When the cemetery is finished, it will provide space for 7028 gravesites. The first burials will take place in November.
The 5.02-acre cemetery is expected to serve a population of more than 55,000 Veterans, their spouses, and eligible children within a 75-mile radius of Cheyenne for the next 40 years. This number includes over 15,000 Wyoming Veterans who will now be able to use a VA burial option for the first time.
Until now, the closest burial option was Fort Logan National Cemetery, located 114 miles away in Denver, Colorado. Wyoming does have another VA cemetery, Oregon Trail Veteran’s Cemetery. It is taken care of by the state of Wyoming and is located 176 miles away in Evansville.
The Cheyenne National Cemetery will be maintained by Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, Colorado. The Fort Logan staff is the closest at 114 miles away from the new cemetery in Cheyenne.
Cheyenne National Cemetery is the sixth to open under the VA’s Rural Initiative program, which provides burial access for Veterans in rural areas not currently served by a national cemetery within the state or VA grant-funded state cemetery.
Since 2014, VA has dedicated rural cemeteries in Idaho, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and now Wyoming, with cemeteries in Nevada and Utah under construction or planned.