Virginia Capitol Connections Winter 2022

popular. In fact, even though the Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk recently completed a columbaria expansion project, another request for USDVA grant funding to add additional columbaria space, a second committal shelter, and public restrooms will be submitted in 2022. Additionally, the Virginia Veterans Cemetery in Amelia County is currently undergoing a $5.2M expansion project that will add 3,601 pre-placed concrete crypts for in-ground casketed burials in two sections of the cemetery. This project is expected to be completed in early 2022. Since Virginia’s first state veterans cemetery opened in Amelia in 1997, more than 21,000 veterans and eligible family members have been interred. Virginia’s state veterans cemeteries are the third busiest of all states, and the Albert G. Horton, Jr. Memorial Veterans Cemetery in Suffolk consistently ranks in the top three out of 112 state and tribal cemeteries throughout the country. The USDVA has set a goal of having a national, state, or tribal veterans cemetery within 75 miles of 95% of America’s Veterans. In addition to the three state veterans cemeteries operated by VDVS, Virginia’s veterans and families are served by Culpeper National Cemetery and Quantico National Cemetery, which are open for both casket and cremation burials, and by Danville National Cemetery, which has space only for cremated burials. Small segments of Virginia are served by National Cemeteries in other states, notably Mountain Home National Cemetery in Tennessee, Salisbury National Cemetery in North Carolina, and West Virginia National Cemetery. With Culpeper National Cemetery projected to run out of burial space in the next 10-15 years, a “gap” will open in the 75 mile service target set by USDVA. Virginia has one of the highest percentages of veterans per population of any state. To meet the memorial needs of veterans living in the western part of Virginia, the Commonwealth will need to plan for a fourth state veterans cemetery in the years ahead. The precise location will be determined by VDVS and the NCA. The process—land acquisition, securing federal grant funding, construction, and hiring staff—is expected to take at least five years. For more information about Virginia’s state veteran cemeteries, including eligibility requirements for veterans and dependents, please visit Supervisor James Icenhour is an Air Force veteran and represents the Jamestown District on the James City County Board of Supervisors. Mr. Icenhour also serves on the Commonwealth’s Board of Veterans Services. Michael Henshaw joined the Virginia Department of Veterans Services in 2020 after serving as cemetery director for VA veteran cemeteries in California, Illinois, Ohio, and Tennessee and employment with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, where he helped recover the remains of American service members in Cambodia and North Korea. He is retired from the U.S. Army. Along with his staff of over forty employees, Henshaw is committed to maintain Virginia’s state veterans cemeteries as National Shrines.V 25