April 3, 2013 | Vol. 94, No. 78

Proposed veterans cemetery a worthy perpetual honor

Last week’s return of the 1432nd Engineer Company of the Michigan National Guard was a reminder of how important the service of our soldiers is to our country. Their service is truly honorable.

Their return was also a reminder of how crucial it is that we uphold the promises made to members of the military with health care and other benefits. The nation honors their service by upholding its end of the bargain.

U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, is looking to extend honor to our soldiers with the creation of a veterans cemetery in the Upper Peninsula. He recently met with Gov. Rick Snyder to move the issue along.

“This issue is something that a lot of veterans in our area are very passionate about,” Benishek said in a recent press release. “I am hopeful that by working closely with our veteran organizations, as well as local and state officials, we can make this idea a reality.”

Benishek, a physician by trade, worked at the Oscar Johnson VA Medical Center in Iron Mountain for 20 years and is quick to claim veterans issues as near and dear. He said his congressional district has one of the highest percentages of veterans in the entire United States.

While population thresholds prevent the establishment of a national veterans’ cemetery in the U.P., the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can provide up to 100 percent of the development cost of a state veterans’ cemetery through grants, according to Benishek’s office.

So, the federal government will help establish such a cemetery, but it will be up to state to fund its perpetual care. That care will cost tax dollars, but will be a worthy perpetual honor to their service and sacrifice.