Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder announced the initiative to establish a new State Veterans Cemetery in the Upper Cumberland region. TDVA has submitted a pre-application grant to the National Cemetery Administration for federal funding of the architectural design, engineer support and construction costs. However, funding for land acquisition must be raised through donations as well as city, county and state funding.
The cemetery would be located in the Upper Cumberland Region to serve Veterans and their eligible dependents in Clay, Cumberland, Dekalb, Fentress, Jackson, Macon, Overton, Pickett, Putnam, Smith, Trousdale, Van Buren, Warren and White counties
TDVA Assistant Commissioner Don Smith hosted a community meeting on Thursday, April 25 to form a steering committee to proceed with the land acquisition process. Volunteers for the community member committee were finalized on Wednesday, May 1. Two community members from 12 counties have volunteered to participate in the Upper Cumberland State Veterans Cemetery Steering Committee. Clay and Dekalb Counties will not participate in the committee efforts. The Upper Cumberland State Veterans Cemetery Steering Committee will review available properties in the region and narrow the list to three recommendations which will be submitted to the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs for consideration.
Chairman Jim Amerson of White County will be a non-voting member. Remaining committee members include Co-Chairman Daven Oppenheim of Fentress County, Secretary Ron Goode of Overton County as well as committee members Mark Pfaffenroth and Bill Ward of Cumberland County, E.J. Hancock and Keith Kennedy of Fentress County, Everette Vanhooser and Dale Smith of Jackson County, Mike Scott and Pat McJury of Macon County, John Alcorn of Overton County, Glenn Williams and Brian Raef of Pickett County, Frank Favia and Jim Loftis of Putnam County, Bob Baker and Scott Penfield of Smith County, Dan Belcher and William “Buddy” Hughes of Trousdale County, Vern Curry and Les Conway of Van Buren County, Angie Higgins of Warren County as well as George Schneider and Ralph Griffith of White County.
“Veterans and family members in the Upper Cumberland region currently have to drive to State Veterans Cemeteries in Nashville or Knoxville for services,” Grinder said. “It is our goal to establish a new State Veterans Cemetery within 75 miles from the Veterans and dependents we serve in the Upper Cumberland region.”
The next full steering committee meeting will be held on Friday, May 17 at the White County Courthouse, Second Floor, 1 East Brockman Way in Sparta at 10 a.m. (CDT).
For more information about the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs and existing State Veterans Cemeteries, visit the department’s website at www.tn.gov/veteran, facebook.com/myTDVA or stay up to date by following the department on twitter @TNDVA.