Las Vegas, Nev. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) announced an agreement has been made by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that the agency will acquire the land necessary to begin construction of a National Veterans Cemetery in Elko, Nevada. This week, the Senator requested a briefing with the VA to confirm their intentions, and is proud to announce this agreement that will provide Nevada’s rural veterans with a crucial burial option in their own community. In July, the Senator sent a letter to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the National Cemetery Administration (NCA) urging them to support her legislation to create the Elko Veterans Cemetery.
“I’ve been working alongside Elko’s veterans and community leaders to create a much-needed veterans cemetery in Eastern Nevada, and I’m glad our advocacy has spurred the VA to finally take this important step by acquiring the land needed to construct the burial ground. Nevadans living in Elko and the surrounding areas shouldn’t have to drive 250 miles to the nearest national cemetery. Our brave veterans deserve to be laid to rest in a national veterans cemetery that is near their home and loved ones, and I can’t wait to see this long-awaited project completed.”
Senator Cortez Masto introduced the Elko National Cemetery Act on March 12, 2020. This legislation would authorize a conveyance of public land to the National Cemetery Administration under U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for its use as a national cemetery. She previously filed the text of her bill as an amendment to the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act.
Senator Cortez Masto’s bill builds upon the VA’s efforts that began in 2011, when it established the Rural Initiative to improve burial access for veterans residing in rural areas. The Rural Initiative sought to establish a National Cemetery presence in rural areas where the veteran population is less than 25,000 within a 75-mile radius of proposed National Veterans Burial Ground locations. This initiative identified Elko, Nevada, as an area that met such criteria, but has yet to receive such services. The closest veterans cemetery for regional veterans and their families is over 200 miles away – in either Reno or Salt Lake City.